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HAWLEY'S CASTLE

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LAND SPEED RECORD

IMJIN WAR

PERCY WILLIAMS

TOPSY THE ELEPHANT

GEORGE FOULK

HAWLEY'S CASTLE 

Samuel Hawley is a writer of narrative nonfiction. His books are highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history, 19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in 1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.

TAKING THE HUNGER OUT OF HUNGER STRIKING
January  9, 2013

As Chief Teresa Spence approaches the one-month mark in her highly publicized hunger strike on Parliament Hill, observers are starting to take note of how healthy and vigorous she continues to look, her cheeks round and dappled, her double chin full. How is this possible, pundits are asking, on a diet reportedly confined to fish broth and moose soup?

Chuck Wagon Foods, makers of canned soups and stews and the popular Raging Grizzly line of beef jerky products, has provided the answer. In a press conference earlier this week, Chuck Wagon CEO Willis Rank revealed that the fish soup upon which Chief Spence has been subsisting is in fact Chuck Wagon Seafood Gumbo Supreme, advertised as “So Thick and Hearty You Can Eat It With a Fork.”

And the moose soup Chief Spence consumes by way of variation? “Why, that’s our own Chuck Wagon Moose ‘n More in the 18 ounce can,” says Rank. “We’ve been delivering it to Chief Spence by the case.”

The revelation has market gurus taking notice. According to Ray Bloom of the marketing firm Sell Like Hell Inc., “This is something really new. The corporate sponsorship of hunger strikes has never been tried before but we foresee great potential.”

Sell Like Hell Inc. is behind the hunger strike camp set up on Tuesday at Queen’s Park by high school teacher and political activist Ringstead Moore. Moore has vowed that, unless he is granted a meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty, he will continue his hunger strike “to the end.”

Moore’s hunger strike is being sponsored by Feed Lot Products, a competitor of Chuck Wagon Foods in the canned soups and stews market. Moore has reportedly signed an exclusive agreement with Feed Lot to subsist solely on the company’s Chicken ‘n Sweet Pumpkin Curry and its Beef 'n Mushroom Stroganoff for the duration of his hunger strike. The contract also stipulates that any meeting Moore agrees to with Premier McGuinty must include a meal at which the two may be photographed consuming a Feed Lot product.

Copyright 2013 Samuel Hawley


A PLEDGE TO END GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

December 11, 2012

I just read in the newspaper that December 10 was the last day of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.” The campaign was intended to “raise awareness of gender-based violence, to influence commitments to change, and to invite all community members to pledge their commitments in writing.”

Alas, I missed the campaign. But I can still pledge my commitment in writing, can’t I? So here goes: I pledge to leave my shillelagh at home for the rest of the year. I will not carry it about as I prowl the town. I will not use it to bonk unsuspecting females, gays or trans-gender individuals on the head as they walk down the street, nor will I belabor them with my stout hobnail boots.

There, that feels better.


THOMAS EDISON ON GOD AND THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT

January 6, 2012

I've been reading up on Thomas Edison as part of some research for a book proposal. Here are a few interesting things that he said.

When asked if he believed in God:
"Oh yes. I think all scientific men do that. Or, rather, they don't believe it, they know it. It is for the masses to believe. The  scientist knows." ("Wizard Edison at Home," New York World, Nov. 17, 1889)

On our place in the cosmos:
"What a wonderfully small idea mankind has of the Almighty. My impression is that he has made unchangeable laws to govern this and billions of other worlds and that he has forgotten even the existence of this little mote of ours ages ago. Why can’t man follow up and practice the teachings of his own conscience, mind his business, and not obtrude his purposely created finite mind in affairs that will be attended to without any volunteered advice." (Thomas Edison diary, July 21, 1885, Thomas A. Edison Papers, Special Collections Series, doc. number TAEM 90:3)

On the vilification of capitalists:
"Read Sunday Herald, learned of John Roach’s failure. Am sorry. He has been pursued with great malignity by newspapers and others, from ignorance I think. Americans ought to be proud of Roach who started in life as a day laborer and became a giant of industry and the greatest shipbuilder in the United States, employing thousands of men and feeding innumerable families. What has he now for this 40 years of incessant work and worry. People who hound such men as these I would invent a special Hades. I would stricken them with the chronic sciatic neuralgia and cause them to wander forever stark naked within the artic circle." (Thomas Edison diary, July 19, 1885, Thomas A. Edison Papers, Special Collections Series, doc. number TAEM 90:3)


THE ABRAMS BROTHERS

August 26, 2011

Here's a shot of the Abrams Brothers of Kingston, Ontario, performing on August 21, 2011 at Snow Road Station north of Highway 7. That's James on the fiddle (he's just out of high school; starting Queen's U. in Sept.), his older brother John on the guitar (starting 2nd year at Queen's, majoring in English and film studies), and cousin Eli at the right on bass. These guys are young but they've been performing for a decade and it shows: They're great.. If you don't know about them yet,  stop by their website here and check out their cover of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" on Youtube here. Note: Their live performances of this song are even better now, two years later--better than Coldplay's original,  in my opinion. The energy they bring to it will blow you away. They have a bunch of original songs too on their new album, Northern Redemption. I particularly like "While You Sleep," written by Chris Brown of Wolfe Island, who also produced Northern Redemption.

Watch these young guys. They're going places.


abrams brothers kingston


INSIDE NORTH KOREA

August 4, 2011

Here is a link to a series of photos in The Atlantic magazine that were taken earlier this year by AP photographer David Guttenfelder. There is  nothing in the way of poverty in them--almost everything Guttenfelder was allowed to photograph appears to have been orchestrated by his NORK handlers. The images nevertheless have a otherworldly strangeness about them and are definitely worth viewing.


SMASH THE GANG OF GLOBAL WARMING DENIERS!

July 31, 2011


global warming deniers


LAUNCH OF "HAWLEY'S CASTLE"
July 28, 2011

I've rechristened this section of my cyberspace home "Hawley's Castle" with the intention of doing more regular blogging. We'll see how it goes. 


THE AMERICAN COALITION OF THE LAZY
February 14, 2011

Lazy. The label has been used for centuries to deride those afflicted with a handicap and to deny them their rights. So says Bill Shank, chairman of the American Coalition of the Lazy, or AMCOL, a national organization lobbying to have laziness classified as a special disability qualifying for enhanced welfare payments.

“Laziness is not a lifestyle choice,” says Shank. “It’s the way we were born and we can’t just snap our fingers and change. It’s society that has to change. That’s why AMCOL was founded: to push for the stigmatizing and the discrimination to end. We are coming out of the closet in record numbers, and we’re saying, ‘We’re here, we’re lazy and we’re proud.’ Americans have to deal with it. Americans have to stop beating us down and give us our fair share.”

“It’s all about fairness,” agrees AMCOL community organizer Tyler Weems. “We have members barely scraping by on their welfare checks. In the black community, young women routinely have multiple children out of wedlock and through such enterprise increase their welfare payments and achieve a better standard of living. But for us, our disability blocks us from this avenue of advancement. We are too lazy to raise children. And so we are forced to get by on what the government gives us, which currently is not nearly enough. It only pays for rent and food and utilities and just a few little extras. What about annual holidays? What about eating out, big-screen TVs, prostitutes, trips to the casino? We are denied these basic human rights simply because we are lazy.”

Virtually unknown until recently, AMCOL moved into the national spotlight last year with Lazy Pride marches in LA, Sacramento and San Francisco. These were followed by a Let's-Celebrate-Laziness event at UC Berkeley, with all classes cancelled so that students could loll about. A Lazy Pride Sleep-In to promote unity is  scheduled for Oceanside later this week. The event is being organized by AMCOL’s Hispanic wing.

“Membership is skyrocketing,” says Weems, who places the organization’s numbers at over five million. He concedes, however, that this is a rough estimate only. “We don’t actually keep membership records,” he says. “But I can tell you that our numbers are definitely growing. I am hearing from people all over the country who are coming out of the closet to celebrate their laziness and to demand their fair share.”

AMCOL’s website, under construction since early 2008, should further enhance the organization's exposure. It is slated for completion in 2015.

The fight for fair treatment for the energy-challenged, as some preferred to be called, has now shifted to Capitol Hill. In a surprise move on Monday that has rocked Washington circles, Reps. Jeannette Snorky (D-Cal) and Abel Smellie (D-NY) have stepped forward to co-sponsor a bill to add laziness to the Congress Disability Act, the so-called Snorky-Smellie Amendment.

“Social justice,” said Snorky when contacted for comment. “Fairness and equality. Diversity. Global warming.”

“A chicken in every pot,” added Smellie.

“It’s an encouraging sign,” says AMCOL chairman Bill Shank. “And we are tremendously grateful to Representatives Smellie and Snorky. But it’s just a first step. Next we need to push for bigger welfare payments. It’s going to be a dogfight. The right-wingers are going to get up to their old partisan tricks. But we are on the side of right. We will prevail.”

Copyright 2011 Samuel Hawley


WHY YES. . .
February 14, 2011

Sam Hawley photo bird with hairdo

. . . I did just have my hair done.


THE DUNG HOTEL. . .
February 14, 2011

dung hotel ho chi minh city

. . . the place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.


CAN MONKEYS MAKE FIRE?
February 13, 2011

During a trip to Ubud on the island of Bali, I made several visits to the “Monkey Forest” at the south end of town to watch the Balinese macaques. They are a delightfully rambunctious group, grabbing visitor’s bags and water bottles, chasing one another about, diving into a little pond and sneaking up on each other underwater.

On my second visit to the Monkey Forest I wandered away from the central area where most people congregate and stumbled on a somewhat more subdued troop of macaques that particularly caught my interest. A number of them were fooling around with stones they had gathered, clutching them in their arms, scraping them back and forth on the concrete walkway and tapping them against each other. It was curious behavior that I have since learned has been identified as “stone play” by researchers studying macaques in Japan—the same macaques that have learned from one another to wash their food and soak in hot springs in winter.

Among this group of Ubud macaques, however, was one young fellow whose behavior seemed to be more than just play. He sat on the ground by himself, holding one stone in his foot while he tapped it repeatedly with another. Positioned on the lower stone, directly beside the point on it he where was striking, was a bit of dry grass which he held in place with his foot. I don’t know much about wilderness survival skills, but it looked exactly like he was trying to start a fire by striking two stones together to send sparks into tinder. He kept this up for several minutes, stopping occasionally to reposition the grass. Then he carried his two stones to a new spot, picked up a bit of dried leaf, positioned it on his lower stone in exactly the same manner and began to tap again.

This monkey tapped without let-up for the entire thirty minutes that I watched him from no more than three feet away, and was always careful to hold some dried grass or leaf beside the impact point between his two stones. If this behavior catches on—and another young monkey nearby was doing the same thing, but more clumsily and without any tinder—someday an Ubud macaque may just figure out how to make fire!


SOME OF THE OLDER INHABITANTS OF THE MONKEY FOREST. . .
February 13, 2011

ubud monkey forest

. . . are admittedly jaded.


SINGAPORE WANT AD
February 13, 2011

Singapore job advert

Like Sinatra said: "My kind of town. . ."


AN ALIEN ABDUCTEE IN VIETNAM
February 13, 2011

In the summer of 2007 my wife and I spent a memorable vacation in Vietnam that included a week on Phu Quoc island in the South China Sea. Now, we’ve traveled in Asia quite a bit and have had the pleasure of meeting a variety of interesting people, locals and expats alike. Awaiting us on Phu Quoc, however, was someone very special indeed.

The scene was set at our hotel, the Tropicana Resort, at the end of a perpetually flooded lane that one negotiated by wading. Then there was the Gop Gio Restaurant down the road, serving “grilled kangaroo,” “deep fried sea horse,” “drilled vegetable,” and “boiled stomach slowly.”

All this faded into the background, however, the morning when an elderly Australian of French extraction wandered into the Tropicana’s restaurant from his place down the beach. He was married to a Vietnamese woman and lived on Phu Quoc, and frequented the Tropicana in search of chess partners. In the course of several wide-ranging conversations I learned that he had taken up residence on Phu Quoc some years previously to escape the hounding of fans of a book he had written about some sort of prophecy. I assumed he was spinning a tale, and so didn’t press him for more information. At our final meeting, however, he made a point of writing down his name, “Michel Desmarquet,” on a scrap of paper, followed by the enigmatic word “Thiaoouba.” “Look it up on the internet,” he said. “But don’t tell anyone I’m here!”

My wife and I left Phu Quoc wondering about Michel. He was likeable, not a blow-hard, and we wanted to believe him. But surely his claim of being a popular author in hiding was too good to be true. Upon returning to Seoul and Googling his name and “Thiaoouba,” however, we discovered that what he said was not just true, but only the beginning of a truly fantastic tale.

On June 26, 1987, Michel was taken by aliens from his home in Australia to their luminous world of Thiaoouba, a category nine planet, the most superior category of civilization in our galaxy. During his nine-day visit the Thiaooubans, led by an individual named Thao, instructed Michel on all manner of subjects: how the Earth was populated 1.35 million years ago by beings from the planet Bakaratini; how the pyramids are actually devices for communicating with the cosmos; how other planets have destroyed themselves by technology run amuck; how the theory of evolution is wrong; and many other things.

Following the instructions of the Thiaooubans, Michel began writing a book about his experiences upon being returned to the Earth. It was published six years later as Abduction to the Ninth Planet, later reissued under the title Thiaoouba Prophecy. It is a premier alien abduction account salted with a compelling amount of specific detail. The length of a Thiaoouban year, we learn, is 333 days, divided in 26 periods known as karses; Michel’s weight on Thiaoouba was 47 kg. as opposed to 70 kg. on Earth; Thiaooubans wear clothes that match the color of their auras; they subsist on a drink called hydromel, a half glass every two days; they use toilets that vaporize waste as it exits the body, a device that Michel feared would zap his privates.

Abduction, however, is more than just an extra-terrestrial travelogue. It is a guide for the journey that, as Michel describes it, lays ahead for us humans, from our current lowly category one civilization, the “category of sorrow,” to a paradisiacal category nine world such as enjoyed by the Thiaooubans. It is a journey toward enlightenment that the Thiaooubans, through Michel, want to teach us how to take. Indeed, they have been trying to teach us for thousands of years: according to Michel, Jesus was a Thiaoouban—who incidentally lies buried today in Aomori, Japan.

The rest, as they say, is history. Abduction to the Ninth Planet became an international bestseller, translated into Spanish, Greek, Japanese, German, Russian, and several other languages. Thiaoouba grew into something of a New Age religion. Fans began clamoring for more information—and Michel began to feel the pressures of fame. Finally, in the late 1990s, he turned his back on everything, rejecting the material gain that his book, which condemns materialism, had ironically brought him. He turned over everything to a proxy and retired to Phu Quoc, where he remains to this day.

So why am I spilling the beans on Michel’s whereabouts after he told me not to reveal his location? Well, that was the one thing Michel may not have been entirely truthful about. I recently discovered on the internet a three-part interview he has done for Japanese TV, the cameras overlooking that same beach where I met him last summer. Michel, it seems, had been sending out feelers on that scrap of paper he gave me. The creator of the Thiaoouba Prophecy is ready to be found.

Copyright 2008 Samuel Hawley


KOREA WELCOMES THE WORLD
February 13, 2011

korea world cup

Enough said.


BLACK MOLES, CORNS AND LIVER SPOTS
February 13, 2011

Kuala Lumpur sign

After having my black moles, corns and liver spots tended at astonishing reasonable prices, it was time to explore Kuala Lumpur's nightlife.