Tag Archives: history

The Geyser Girl on #LisaBurtonRadio

Hey there all you woodland nymphs and water sprites. It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. The only show out there bringing you the characters from the books you love.

I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today has several names. She is Flower of the Steam Basin, sometimes called the Geyser Girl. Welcome to the show, and I hope it’s okay to call you “Flower.”

“Hello, Miss Lisa. You are most gracious, and I am honored to be in your company. Please do call me Flower.”

“You’re associated with the Yellowstone Upper Geyser Basin somehow. Can you tell our listeners about that?”

“When I was an infant, the Faithful Elder, known as Old Faithful geyser, and a mother buffalo named Bearer of Song found me alone on a snowy April’s night in the geyser basin. They raised me as their own with their stories, teachings and proverbial sayings.

“To this day, my origins remain a mystery. When I was older I learned, like you, that although humanlike in form, my physiology is quite different. It enables me to visit the geysers and hot springs, even those with openings too narrow for a human to enter, and to run with the buffalo herd. I dwell with my father; for, to live in the atmosphere of a hot spring and drink of its waters is my requirement…

“I must return to the geysers, I haven’t much time…”

“I get you, girl. I’m a slave to electricity. I can go and go, but eventually have to recharge my batteries. Most of us are like that, somehow. Even the natural-born humans need to have a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a nap.”

“Yes, Miss Lisa, you understand. I grew up playing tag with the lion cubs and wolf pups while I drew up wisdom from their parents’ stories… always to return home again to the steam basin…

“When I was six, my father carried me aloft on his plume when he erupted, much as children ride their fathers’ shoulders. One day, the winds grew playful and parted the waters of the fountain, and a human child my age spotted me with her parents. In time, the family, through their discreetness, proved trustworthy, and both sets of parents allowed us to meet. Because I understand the languages of human, animal and geyser, I served as translator when my father and mother received them.

“After my mother, Bearer of Song, passed away when I was eight, it was through this loving family that I came face-to-face with a man whose storied greatness my mother related to me when I was small: him and his loyal, supportive wife. But others connected with them put me in danger… and Yellowstone…”

“Honestly, your life sounds pretty wonderful. What kind of problem could this cause?”

“My beloved mentor, Lieutenant Ned Halpen, served in the First U.S. Cavalry at Mammoth, and he journeyed throughout Yellowstone as protector of her spiritual and physical heritage. This was before the National Park Service and the rangers. Later, he took ill and lost both his legs. It was then I met him. A year later, when he died, I pledged a sacred vow to God in my father’s presence, to follow in Lt. Halpen’s footsteps and tend to all the park. It is as my mother taught me: “The mystery of your purpose will not fail to find you in its time. Follow closely in its course, this being what you will be expected to give in return.”

“The Halpens have a daughter… Eleanor, a Yellowstone ranger married to a botanist with a grant to study the plant life inside the park.

“No one told her… she found out herself… she was relentless…

“Please, dear Lisa, Eleanor and her husband have captured… and confined me in their basement laboratory for… research. They said, they cannot release an unknown life form, that I have no rights by law. Their attempts to reproduce the atmosphere and waters I need is not sufficient… I’m growing weaker, and my breath… I can barely stand…”

“Hello, we seem to have some trouble on the line. Hello, Flower, can you hear me?–”

“Why, tell me why, Robert, you insisted on keeping a telephone in the laboratory!”

“But Eleanor, who would have known…”

Known what? That this persistent aberration of nature could adapt to using a telephone? Well now, let’s learn to whom she is speaking at the other end…”

“Flower, can you hear me?”

“I can hear you perfectly, Madam. There are laws governing unknown species. And since you are acting as a friend of Miss Flower, you may well fall under that category yourself.”

“Excuse me. Who the hell are you?”

“The voice sounds robotic in nature. Remarkable how, as a composite of metal and wires, you pass yourself off as an impertinent upstart. In fact, Robert and I find the idea of your joining Miss Flower in our accommodations more than intriguing.”

“Get in line, sister. I’m involved in about a thousand lawsuits over my Copyright, Trademark, trade secrets, human trafficking, endangered species status, and the list goes on.”

“Oh, but, I don’t think we ought to wait that long. Unless you furnish your location, we will place you under arrest and strip you down to the nuts and bolts. In addition, we are prepared to have every geyser and spring bottled up in Yellowstone until your friend cooperates. Perhaps you can persuade her…”

“Again, take a number. I think what you’re doing is terrible. Flower is all about love and deserves to live freely among her loved ones.”

“I suppose you would feel that way being, yourself, a potential contamination to humans. I, for one, have had it up to here with living under my father’s shadow. Never receiving credit for my own achievements. That is about to change. Know this: my husband and I will find you wherever you try to hide yourself.”


“Well, looks like we can add cuckoos to the list of species in Yellowstone. I’m worried about Flower. If you would like to find out how she fares, check out the book The Geyser Girl of Yellowstone Park, by Myrtle Brooks.

“Please remember to use those sharing buttons on your way out today. I’m sure Myrtle and Flower would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.

“While we’re on the topic, I’m about due for some more guests around here. If you’re planning a book release, or maybe a push of some kind, keep me in mind. This spot has grown in popularity and it might be a good stop for you.”



In Yellowstone National Park, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a girl of mysterious origins is adopted from infancy by Old Faithful geyser, and by a mother buffalo named Bearer of Song. Beloved to all the park, Flower of the Steam Basin grows up with their stories, proverbial sayings and teachings.

In time, having met a child her own age and her parents, trust ripens between families, and Flower of the Steam Basin gains a closely protective circle of human friends. At nine years old, she is brought face-to-face with Retired Lieutenant Ned Halpen of the Yellowstone Cavalry, whose exemplary career embodied the role of protector of Yellowstone’s spiritual and physical heritage.

In the wake of Lt. Halpen’s passing one year later, her sacred vow to continue his legacy brings both reward and mortal danger. And when the circle is breached, Flower of the Steam Basin and her father are forced to choose between her own safety and well-being and the performance of her sworn duties.

This is her story, as seen through the eyes of Yellowstone.

Buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or through Myrtle Brooks.


As written beneath her yearbook photo, Class of 1970, the expressed lifetime goal of the author herein known as Myrtle Brooks, is: “to realize the love present in everything.” Maturity has taught her that this is a vision meant to be shared. When not at home in her beloved Brooklyn, N.Y., she may be found dancing with the big rigs on the interstate as she heads for national parks and places of quiet beauty. Knowing her place, she enters such sanctuaries as a respectful visitor and humble observer; Whereupon she is lovingly greeted and made welcome as family.

Contact Myrtle at the following locations:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | LinkedIn


Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

More vacation stuff, plus research

Vacation posts are kind of hit and miss in my experience. Since it's all I have right now, I'm going to go for it.

We went on the walking voodoo tour last night. Turns out this was a very PC kind of presentation. They drew the obvious connections to Catholicism, and discussed the ways it came from Africa and evolved after it arrived. Everyone worships the same god, and while the Catholics have saints, voodoo has other names for lesser deities that will sometimes intercede on our behalf.

All the shops seem to have two active altars, and shoppers are forbidden from photographing them. However; those on the tour are invited to photograph them. I have no idea about the difference, but I have a theory money is involved. I wanted to explain that, because of the sign in my photograph. I'm not one of those tourists who fails to follow the rules.

This altar is for a goddess who is also in charge of inspiration. Think of her like a Muse among her other responsibilities. She's also fond of very high quality things. Notice the champaign offerings.

Of course, everything is very benign even good. Questions from the crowd about voodoo dolls and zombies were casually poo pooed. Some dumb ass had to ask the difference between voodoo and hoodoo. (It was me.) They distanced themselves from hoodoo, explaining it isn't a religion but more of a practice. Then they explained all the things Hollywood comes up with make better fiction. (Kind of a please ask questions, but not you buddy response. I'm sure John Howell could make a ten things list about this.)

They noted that John Paul II held mass here, and met with a group of voodoo priests. Once he understood the similarities, he declared voodoo a companion religion to Catholicism. At least that's what our guide Daphne said. (My wife didn't like all my Scooby Doo jokes after learning the guide's name, so I'll keep them to myself.)

On the better fiction point we are in agreement. Voodoo, or hoodoo, are better when they're fantastic and dangerous. I will continue to step up my fictional game on this basis. In fact, Lorelei my Muse visited me and gave me an outstanding character. He is a supporting character in my mind, but I already have about six vignette ideas for him. I just need to find a hero and a plot to go with him. This is much more difficult than when the plot comes first. In fact, I'm already struggling with an old concept of how to keep magic from being the cure for everything. Any paranormal or fantasy authors will know what I mean.

We've eaten a ton, and that doesn't seem likely to stop. Last night we went to Acme Oyster Bar. (I expected Wile E. Coyote to make an appearance, but he didn't.) We did the old people thing and shared a couple of dishes. The charbroiled oysters were fantastic, and so were the red beans and rice, rounded out by fried stone crab claws and fried crawfish tails. (In Idaho we call them crawdads, but since we're here…)

Today we're being lazy. We had room service breakfast, with beignets (And praline sauce). Then Old What's Her Face booked a pedicure. I think I'll just hang here until she's ready to go out. I'm kind of tired, and we walked about a thousand miles in the last few days. New Orleans makes me glad I never rented a car.

Drivers here are aggressive and impatient. I've heard more car horns in a long weekend than in a year in Boise. Boise drivers are crazy too, but they don't ride on their horn like they do here.

This is a town for walkers, at least this part of town. The humidity and heat make this difficult, but we did it anyway. Since we were walking so much, I decided to play Pokemon Go while doing so. I missed the first one of these I saw, but the second one is mine.

This guy is regional, and does not appear in Idaho. I'm sure not everyone is into this game, but it's kind of fun to find something you just can't get everywhere.

It's a long ways, but I'd like to go to Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop today. It's a bar, and Lafitte is a genuine part of NOLA history, as well as American History. Again, we have no agenda and we may, or may not get there. Old What's Her Face refuses to try the bicycle rickshaw taxi things, and it's a long way to walk.

Tomorrow we fly out early, and it looks like we have three legs to get home. (The joys of flying on standby, but you can't argue with the price.)


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The Idea Mill #24

My blog tour seems to have an empty slot today, and that's a good thing. While all of those posts were individually written, and provide unique content, they all have the same underlying theme.

I like to provide unique things here to keep interest up, and it's time for another visit to the old Idea Mill.

Our first article is kind of short. It involves the discovery of an old shoe inside the walls of a house. It was the house of the Headmaster of Cambridge University, and was placed there 300 years ago. So what? I'm sure if they dig out my ductwork someone would probably find a plastic GI-Joe or two. This kind of thing happens everywhere, right?

In this case, it seems as though the shoe was placed on purpose to keep evil spirits out of the house. It was located near the chimney, a likely place for those spirits to enter. This one is more cool points if it's included in a story, but to me, the story is why it was placed in the first place. It might be a good story about a haunted house, that was only resolved by placing the shoe. Maybe it's a new construction, and family lore-masters neglected to tell the new homeowner about the family curse. Terrifying nights lead Grandma to visit, tell the story, and place the shoe. You can read the article here.

This next one almost qualifies as a cryptid, except those are always an animal of some kind. It's an article about the Black Knight Satellite. Rumor has it that Tesla first detected its signals from his base in Colorado. It orbits the Earth's poles and emits a cryptic signal. The fact is that humans didn't place it. It's a good article, and you should read it. Here is the link.

Like all amateur investigations, someone is obviously drawing conclusions, then looking for evidence to support the conclusion. Still, there is enough controversy out there to really make something cool out of it. The government coverup theory is already in place, so run with it. Is it a spy from an alien civilization? Is Earth just a reality show for bored aliens somewhere? Maybe Earth is an experiment to study human evolution and this is the broadcast source. Maybe we sent that postcard into space all those years ago as an answer to the Black Knight's message. It sounds like there could be any number of good short stories involving this one. As a novel, it would have to be a piece of a larger puzzle.

This next segment is actually based upon two articles. There is a lot of overlap, but some items are unique to each article. Here are the links: Article One and Article Two.

It's basically a list of things on a timeline for comparison. I liked the idea that there were still wooly mammoths around while the pyramids were being built. The idea that France was still using the guillotine when Star Wars premiered is also kind of a mind bender. How about America hot rodding around on the surface of the moon in the same year that Switzerland gave women the right to vote.

These are harder to deal with in the scope of a blog post, because each of them could be their own mini post. A little mind bending can add something to your fiction. Honestly, I included them so I wouldn't lose track of them.

Finally we have this one. The French Red Zone is still off limits to people 100 years after World War One. There is so much unexploded ordinance here that it's almost like a minefield. Hell, some of it probably is a minefield. This includes things like several kind of poison gas. Read the article here.

This one amazes me. Humans are pretty good at cleaning this kind of thing up. I'm writing this on September 11th, and the twin towers have been completely removed and reclaimed. In my mind, this doesn't make anyone lazy, it just means it was so much more horrible than we can imagine. They still wash out skeletal remains after a big storm. Plants are dying off from all the toxic waste. One-Hundred years later folks. Let that sink in for a bit.

Need a wasteland for your post-apocalyptic novel, start your research right here. Westley and Buttercup fled into the Fire Swamp and fought Rodents of Unusual Size. I'll see your Fire Swamp and raise you Verdun. I'm sure the chemicals can explain any number of monsters your plucky heroes might encounter. Maybe you want to make it a border to keep people away from your secret military base. Someone cleaned up the middle and now it's Area-51 European style.

Those are the articles. I included an extra one this time, because part of it was just a list. What would you create using something here as inspiration?

Part of the fun is outlining a corny story using all of the articles. This isn't going to be easy, but I like a challenge.

Cavemen responded to a signal from the Black Knight satellite and civilization began, they started building the pyramids and the Great Wall of China. The world's governments learned the truth, and World War One broke out to gain the secrets for the victor. It appears Black Knight has more secrets to share. Deep in the forest at Verdun is a secret base where the research is kept, but they had to place an old shoe in the walls to keep the Black Knight Satellite from driving the researchers mad.

Let's hear it folks; are you inclined to try a story based on something you learned here? Do you find the Idea Mill helpful at all? I've collected them into a category in my sidebar for easier research. Feel free to use them when your Muse needs a kick in the pants.


Filed under The Idea Mill

Jazz, America’s Gift blog tour

There are times when I get to bring new books and /or authors to you. This is because I signed up with 4-Wills Publishing. I've taken advantage of their tour service before, and I've hosted for them too. This time we have something different, because it's about jazz. Author Richie Gerber is here to tell us about it.



Let ’Em Eat Cake (1933)

“What is the voice of the American soul? It is jazz . . .”

—George Gershwin

George—close your eyes and make a wish! Now BLOW!—Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday, dear George. Happy Birthday to you.

On September 26, 1898—117 years ago—the musical phenomenon George Gershwin landed in the East New York section of Brooklyn in nothing but his birthday suit. Gershwin’s name conjures up his well-deserved towering stature as composer and pianist, but let’s explore a smattering of lesser known facets of this complex genius.

Just to jazz things up, as I did in my book JAZZ: America’s Gift—From Its Birth to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue & Beyond, I will introduce each interesting tidbit of information with a Gershwin song title and include the date of the song’s publication. So let’s have some fun!


Lovers of Art (1924)

“If only I could put Rouault into music.”

—George Gershwin

George Gershwin was deeply entrenched in the art world from all sides of the easel—art appreciator, art collector, and artist of note in his own right. Gershwin’s passion for modern art matched his devotion to modern music. He described himself as a “modern romantic,” which was spot on for both his music and art. He revealed his modernistic proclivities in both music and art, saying, “I am keen for dissonance; the obvious bores me. The new music and the new art are similar in rhythm.”

Gershwin’s cousin Henry Botkin, a celebrated American Modernist painter and art connoisseur, became Gershwin’s mentor in the world of art. Botkin—or as George always called him, “my Cousin, Botkin, the painter”—helped him amass an exceptional art collection.

How exceptional was Gershwin’s collection? Get this: The walls of his Riverside Drive apartment looked like a museum. He had works by Modigliani, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, Chagall, Rouault, Kandinsky, Leger, Rousseau, Max Weber, Klee, Siqueiros, and even Picasso. Are you starting to get the picture?

By 1933 the collection was so extraordinary that Gershwin loaned oils, watercolors, sculptures, lithographs, and drawings to the Arts Club of Chicago for an “Exhibition of the George Gershwin Collection of Modern Paintings.”

Gershwin started to collect fine art in the mid-to-late 1920s through his untimely demise in 1937. To get a better handle on the value of his amazing collection, let’s plunge into the math. His brother, Ira, estimated that George paid approximately $50,000 (just shy of $1 million today) for the entire collection, but over time, the price tag grew exponentially.

For example, Gershwin purchased Picasso’s “The Absinthe Drinker,” created during Picasso’s renowned “Blue Period,” for $1,500 (about $25,000 today). In 2010, Christie’s Auction House auctioned “The Absinthe Drinker” for a whopping . . . hold on tight . . . . $51.2 million! And that was for just one of his more than 140 paintings. When we add up the value of the other paintings in his collection, it is safe to say George Gershwin’s art collection would easily top out in the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS! Not too shabby for a $50,000 investment.

Gershwin was also an accomplished painter. Some said if he hadn’t been successful in music, he could have made it in the world of art. Again, under the masterful coaching of his celebrated “Cousin Botkin, the painter,” Gershwin blossomed into an outstanding artist. It was easy to see that in both music and painting, George Gershwin was indeed a “modern romantic.”


The He-Man (1925)

“A dapper lean shark of a man.”

—Hoagy Carmichael’s description of George Gershwin

Physically, Gershwin had it all. He was a human dynamo with an unparalleled zest for life, who leapt up stairs, several steps at a time, to get to his fifth-floor man-cave apartment in his family’s Upper West Side Brownstone.

Gershwin had more energy than a Texas wildcat, erupting with colossal pizzazz. Jewess singer and actress Kitty Carlisle (of TV’s To Tell the Truth fame) who briefly dated Gershwin is quoted as saying, “[He had] enormous energy, and there’s nothing quite as sexy as energy, is there? What else is there?”

Gershwin stood at five foot nine inches and was brimming with nervous energy; indeed, many painted him as a “high-energy guy.” He was a product of, as well as one of the early architects of, the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties. Our very own birthday boy, George, was at the epicenter of a frantic decade overflowing with moxie.

Fine muscular coordination made Gershwin a great piano player and dancer. Master hoofer, Fred Astaire shared a story about Gershwin’s showing him and his sister, Adele, a complicated dance step for “Fascinating Rhythm.” Astaire said of Gershwin’s dance routine, “It was the perfect answer to our problem . . . it turned out to be a knockout applause puller.”

Gershwin indulged in all kinds of sports—golf, tennis, fishing, croquet, swimming, and Ping-Pong, which all fit perfectly with his supercharged nature. Although a big fan of boxing and baseball, he never partook for fear of hurting his hands. He once said, “I feel that I was meant for hard physical work, to chop down trees, to use my muscles.” Yet, with all his sports zest, he was an avid cigar smoker, dating back to his father’s cigar shop business.

Gershwin even approached songwriting like a well-conditioned, seasoned athlete. Writing music was a discipline, like exercise, and he needed to keep writing to stay in shape. At his “fittest,” he could write six songs a day, mostly at the piano, but songs came to him while he was away from the piano, too. He said, “The songwriter must always keep in training. He must try to write something every day. . . . Hence, I am always composing.” Boy was he composing. Gershwin said, “I write fifteen songs a day . . . That’s the way I get the bad ones out of my system.” Keeping up this assiduous pace makes one question the validity of writer’s block. Gershwin squelches the writer’s block roadblock with, “The tunes come dripping off my fingers . . .”

A 1930 article stated, “His bones are dry and he cracks them in the manner of a person cracking his fingers.” I suppose Gershwin did this because he spent hours at the piano with a cigar perched boldly from his mouth.


A Typical Self-Made American (1927)

“My people are Americans. My time is today.”

—George Gershwin

This brilliant double entendre title by George’s older brother, Ira, illustrates George’s paradoxical character: both a typical guy but also an atypical fellow. Some saw Gershwin as modest, self-effacing, and bashful, while others saw a conceited, arrogant braggart. He seemed to be made up of diametrically opposed individuals sharing the same body.

Those who did not comprehend Gershwin’s brutal frankness assumed he was a cocky, know-it-all narcissist, full of hot air. His honesty regarding himself was sometimes misconstrued as braggadocio. His friend pianist Oscar Levant asked Gershwin point blank, “Tell me, George, if you had to do it all over, would you fall in love with yourself again?” With friends like that . . .

Most saw Gershwin from a completely opposite perspective—not as a bigmouth boaster, but rather as a blushing, self-conscious cat. Pianist, composer, and orchestrator of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Ferde Grofé said Gershwin was “extremely modest.”

Gershwin’s collaborator on “Porgy and Bess,” DuBose Haywood spoke to this dichotomy. Haywood related that George was a modest man and those who did not know him might mistake his frankness and confidence as conceit.

Adding another note to the Gershwin personality symphony was his wide-eyed naiveté. Conductor Walter Damrosch wrote, “[Gershwin] had an almost child-like affection and pride for his own music.” Porgy and Bess director Rouben Mamoulian noted, “George was like a child. He had a child’s innocence and imagination . . . [And a] great sense of humor.” Biographer Merle Armitage said of Gershwin, “He had style.”

Modest and self-conscious, this extraordinary composer/musician felt at a disadvantage when it came to other big-league composers. This is reflected in the following quote regarding his lack of formal training: “There is so much I have to learn.” He told composer Jerome Kern (“Ol’ Man River” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”), “I am a man with a little bit of talent and a great deal of chutzpah [nerve].” In Gershwin’s own words, we discover he viewed his musical chops less a product of expertise and more of his audacity.

Happy Birthday, George Gershwin!

“A Typical Self-Made American”

Contact info for Author, Richie Gerber:

Twitter: @JazzGift1

Website: www.jazzamericasgift.com


Trailer: https://youtu.be/bGQHPGikcQ8

Purchase link:

Jazz: America's Gift – www.amazon.com/dp/B0100RC8CK

This tour sponsored by: http://www.4willspublishing.wordpress.com/


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