Category Archives: Divers Items

Greensboro author said to be “one of the great writers of our era” rarely mentioned in Greensboro

It’s a mystery.

One of the most highly regarded mystery writers of the last fifty years is from Greensboro. Yet you never hear the name in Greensboro.

The New York Times speaks of “unnervingly beautiful historical novels,” and says of a particular one that it “gets it all right: a shocking crime in a bucolic setting; secretive characters who act from complex motives; a confounding puzzle elegantly presented and put before a detective with an intuitive understanding of the dark side of human nature.” 

There are forty novels, many awards. The author is Charles Todd. “One of the great writers of our era.”

There’s more to the mystery. “Charles Todd” is a pen name. The author is actually a mother and son team. They are Caroline and Charles Todd. And those are themselves pen names for Caroline and David Watjen.

And beneath that, there’s one more layer. Caroline Watjen was born Caroline Teachey in Greenboro where she grew up and graduated from UNCG.

One often hears and sees references to Greensboro authors from Tourgée to O’Henry, to Taylor and Jarrell, to Chappell and Card and Kelly. And more. But Charles Todd is rarely (ever?) mentioned. Nor Caroline, nor Watjen, nor Teachey. The books are undeniably good – whatever category or status they are accorded.

First Anti-Lynching Bill in Congress Came from Tarboro

Today (March 8, 2022), the United States Senate added its unanimous consent to anti-lynching legislation already approved by the House.

The bill makes lynching a federal hate crime. Enactment will cap 120 years of efforts to make lynchings a federal crime. Of course, murders by lynching have always been crimes under state law, but the history of lynchings is that state law enforcement officials did not prosecute them.

The original anti-lynching bill came from Tarboro.

It was introduced by Tarboro’s Congressman George Henry White in 1900. White introduced the bill, following his research into lynchings nationwide, and in the period following the 1898 murders of many black men, women, and children by white supremacists in Wilmington, NC. The Wilmington event has sometimes been referred to as a “riot,” sometimes an “insurrection,” sometimes a “coup,” and is now referred to most commonly as a “massacre.” A massacre of people because they were black.

By the time White introduced his bill in 1900, he was the sole African-American member of Congress and he held the highest government office of any black leader in the country. His biographer denominates him the country’s “first black superstar.” But, in 1899, North Carolina had amended its Constitution to add a literacy test, and White had become the object of a campaign spearheaded by the Raleigh News and Observer to run him out of office. (They ran him out of Tarboro and North Carolina to boot. His house though is still here – a door down from the intersection of Granville and St. Patrick.)

Anyway, White’s bill was not adopted in 1900. Two hundred versions of it were proposed in the ensuing 120 years. Always they were voted down or not even brought to a vote.

But now, 120 years later, this legislation, whose roots are in Tarboro, will be law.

Ticket to digital cornucopia

ALERT: This is a MidLaw public service announcement for holders of library cards in North Carolina.

Ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and music are online. They are free. From the public library. The technology is superb. You can use it from your device, wherever you are, whenever you like.

There’s an app. It’s easy and intuitive even for “traditional” library patrons. You never need to go downtown. Your choice.

The collection is huge. Its contents are what you find in a public library, mostly popular titles.

You must have a device or devices. You must download something. It’s called Libby. Everything is synchronized across all your devices.

Here’s what you do:

  • You need a library card, or at least the number.
  • You make your way online to your library’s website (media section), or go directly to North Carolina Digital Library. (This is for your information. You don’t need to do anything at this site, but it will give you the following link.)
  • Then you go to the Libby App page. That page has complete information. Scroll all the way down. It will link you to the normal places for downloading apps.
  • Go download the Libby app.

After you are set up, it’s just like the library, except you can do it at home, or at the beach – or in the Bahamas. You search the collection. You check out books or other items. You may need to place a hold. You must renew after 15 days.

You can read items on Kindle, or you can read on the Libby app. You can listen to audiobooks on Libby, which is a high-quality audio program that works in all the usual places: on your phone, in the car, etc.

Here’s a big deal: you must “return” the items, but don’t worry about being late. When your time runs out, if you haven’t returned or renewed, the item goes back automatically. No special trip to the nearest branch. The time and productivity dividends from this feature alone must be astronomical.

I think it’s amazing. You can come across a reference that interests you; go to the Library right then, from the same chair; and download it right then. No charge.

Shades of Benjamin Franklin.

Forbes says, “Libby is one of the best resources out there in the e-reader world.”

All that’s left is to figure out how to download the beer.

Is MidLaw late bringing this news to you? You already knew? Good for you. Shingles doesn’t care.

Collards to go

I have learned that you can buy freshly prepared collards, by the pint and by the quart, at the drive-through window at Stamey’s in Greensboro.

Probably, this is some pandemic thing. But I interpret it as a new moment in Southern culture and foodways. Collards to go.

Drive in. “That’ll be $6.07 at the window.” Go.

I got a quart, a fork (plastic), a knife (same), and a napkin.

Down home in the Old North State.

What the Mediterranean is for

The Mediterranean Sea is a network. It connects the peoples who live around it.

Those peoples are locked in a millennia-long competition to determine who knows the best way to cook a chicken.

Evaluating outcomes requires sampling and deliberating over an extended period, frequently revisiting initial impressions, and tracking the evolution of taste.

Nothing here disparages chickens cooked in other places.

Long ago in Southeast Asia, I learned that, while there are cultural differences respecting beef, pork, dogs, and bats, everybody eats chicken.

Except vegetarians.

Absolutely unbelievable

I blame cable TV.

It has sucked the meaning almost completely out of these words:

  • incredible
  • unbelievable
  • absolutely
  • awesome

It’s unbelievable.


Streaming olfactory event: “Pheromone”

Play at Elon. Playwright a Westtown graduate. Admission free. Attendance virtual. Streaming olfactory?

Pheromone: An Awkward Olfactory Inquiry

Playwright: Rachel Graf Evans

Director: Professor Kevin Hoffmann

October 1-6, 2020
Roberts Studio Theatre

Somewhere in a dilapidated warehouse in Atlanta, a new kind of party is just getting started. Wear a t-shirt for three days, put it in a Ziploc bag, bring it to the party, fall in love. What matters more in a successful relationship: biology or commitment? An awkward olfactory inquiry into the nature of attraction, betrayal, and the quirky characters we meet in our quest to find true love.

You’d do well to get a ticket.

Cahiers du Hoummous — Hummus in a time of crisis — MidLaw Semiotics

In crisis, recur to fundamental principles.

Fundamental principles arise from experience. Experience from consciousness. Language shapes consciousness. Language matters.

“Hummus’ is the abbreviation of  “hummus bi tahini.” Hummus is the original word for chickpeas and tahini is for ground sesame seeds.  Hummus begins here. Then salt, and lemon juice to dance. Oil, garlic, cumin, and pepper to dress.

Before the crisis, some were suggesting substituting white beans instead of chickpeas and eliminating tahini. They called that hummus.  Others, mashed beets. It was hummus, except without the chickpeas and without the tahini.

What? George Washington’s hatchet.

Is crisis any wonder?

Recur to fundamental principles. Chickpeas mashed, sesame seeds ground, lemon juiced. Things will come right.

Cahiers du Hoummous — Hummus in a time of crisis — Routines

Control counters crisis

Routines are control.

Centuries — millennia —  have chiseled the steps to hummus. There are routines.

The Cahiers du Hoummous sees the steps, the routines, records them.

Each step in its turn, unto itself. Then the next.

Non-essentials fall away.

Chickpeas, sesame seeds. Lemons.

Choices are made. Routines settle.

  • Dried chickpeas or canned?
  • Roast sesame seeds or tahini?
  • Olive oil in it or on top?
  • One lemon or two?
  • Garlic in the hummus or on top? One clove or two, roasted or not?
  • Add tahini to chickpeas or chickpeas to tahini?
  • Skins?
  • Spices.
  • Hot hummus or cold?
  • And more.

Routines. Handles. The handles strengthen. Hummus and beyond.

The gateway is MidLaw Mind. In a time of crisis.


Porter Wagoner and the Wagoneers

Porter Wagoner and the Wagoneers