Diving down rabbit holes: Fledgling 19-teens’ silent film industry proved distracting

Above: “Boy Playwright Shows Talent,” San Antonio Express, July 6, 1913, UNT Libraries, The Portal to Texas History

Seeking the feel of an era when trying to write historic fiction requires time-consuming research, but distracting detours are so seductive and somewhat justified as snippets gleaned slip into the pages you type.

Take Oliver Perry Wilson Bailey (1897-1978), tagged with an ambitious-sounding name. The 1910 Census, when he was but a lad of 12, recorded him as a professional rabbit-raiser living on South Alamo Street, now part of Hemisfair, in San Antonio. By 1913, he was an accomplished screen writer. Yes, the son of a reporter of the San Antonio Express already had sold screenplays to three different companies.

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Texans sure like reading about Texas

Above: 2021 brought new ghost lore for Brackenridge Park.

In the end of the year push to publish An Ostrich-Plumed Hat, and Yes She Shot Him Dead, I almost forgot the all-important round-up of your favorite posts from 2021. Most readers appear to favor stories about their hometowns, whether it is San Antonio (still Alamobsessive as ever) or Austin. Or maybe this represents a two-year confinement blip, where you are looking for comfort close to home and aren’t fully prepared to play boulevardier yet.

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Please leave my friend Phil out of the ongoing Battle over the Alamo

There we were, sitting beside each other. Phil and I. I’m talking about Phil Collins. But I just call him Phil now. Because I sat beside him for about one minute. As you can tell this is leading to one of celebrities’ worst curses: people who don’t know them writing about them.

2013 post on this blog following that year’s San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Awards

Okay. I admit it. Phil and I scarcely could be called friends. But someone needs to rise to his defense.

In Forget the Alamo, authors Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford lay bare major flaws of men many Texans have elevated to heroic heights for their roles at the Alamo. They also illuminate less-than-noble reasons Texians were revolting against Mexico, including the preservation of slavery. This has so angered some of Texas’ leaders that their rhetoric against the book has helped it skyrocket up the bestseller list.

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