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Twain House deserves to be saved

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Editor Interviews Self!

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor

There are a lot of things going on this week, so let's jump in.
The Mark Twain House in Hartford is a spectacular museum to the life and career of the one of the most American of writers, but the museum has apparently fallen on hard financial times and might even close.
To help raise money a number of writers have banded together to stage a reading of Twain's work on Sept. 23. Jon Clinch, author of 'Finn,' a prequel to 'Huckleberry Finn,' will join such national bestselling authors as Philip Beard and Andy Carroll to read from Twain's masterpieces.
The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the museum with a one-hour reception, followed by two hours of readings from the authors. The event will conclude with a unique group book signing by all the authors.
Admission to the reading and book signing is $40. Admission to the reception, reading and book signing is $100. For reservations call (860) 280-3152 or e-mail info@marktwainhouse.org.

***
Holyoke Police Chief Anthony Scott may be known as an old school law enforcement officer, but he has a reputation for embracing high tech.
The latest innovation in the Paper City is a new way for police officers to cite parking violations. By using a special pen that transfers the information about a ticket to a Web site and a cell phone that takes photos of the car in the offending location, Holyoke officers can eliminate any of the arguments about parking issues.
That's right, in Holyoke you will no longer be able to say you got the ticket before the meter ran out.
Make sure you've got enough change when you come to Holyoke and be aware you can pay any fine online as well.

***
For folks in the neighborhoods that abut Mason Square the news that a location for a new library is a welcome one. For years, folks have been urging the city to take action on either building a new library or kicking the Urban League out of the former library building.
I'm sure the announcement the city is buying the Muhammad Mosque #13 will be the subject of debate, though, as many of the people I know associated with the effort to bring a fully functional library back to the area wanted the previous library building -- a building that had been renovated at the taxpayers' expense shortly before it was sold.
The fact is that building will never be a library again and as painful as that might be to some people, they will just have to accept it.

***
We've been shorthanded in the editorial department of Reminder Publications recently thanks to a series of vacations, so that's why I'm going to interview myself about my new book from Arcadia Publishing on Springfield.
I'm also being a shameless huckster in the effort to sell some books and make a little cash.
Hey, I'm a Gemini and I've been told I can split myself down the middle to accomplish such a task.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little about this book?
Author: I hope so. The book is the latest in the successful postcard history series from Arcadia Publishing and is an introduction to the history of Springfield.
I: How did you get the idea for it?
A: I was literally thinking about potential book subjects based on notes and material I already had. I had started a collection of Springfield postcards years ago and sent a query to Arcadia. They accepted it, gave me the guidelines and I was off to work.
The postcards are generally in the range from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century, a period in which the city saw a lot of growth and made its reputation nationally as a manufacturing center. I arranged the images to tell a history of the city as well as writing captions for them. The book's introduction gives more information, especially about the place Springfield has in the nation's history.

I: Did you have help with the book?
A: Certainly. Two great local historians, Jim Boone and Robert Walker, lent me postcards from their collections. There were some images I just couldn't find elsewhere.
And the staff at the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum also allowed me to go through some of the museum's files to get more information.

I: What struck you the most about Springfield as you did the research and worked with the images?
A: The city has changed a great deal, but it still has retained much of the buildings that maintain its character. Springfield, despite its problems, remains an urban area with beauty, character and the potential to be a truly great place to live.
I: So where can you find this book?
A: Well, it's at the major on-line booksellers and I have two signings lined up so far at stores that will be carrying it: Sept. 6 at 1 p.m. at the Barnes and Noble in Enfield, Conn., and Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Holyoke Barnes & Noble.
I'm available for speaking engagements, parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs.

I: Isn't this the second book you've written that has been released in the past year?
A: Glad you mentioned that! Yes, my book 'Escape! How Animation Went Mainstream in the 1990s' was recently praised by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin. Maltin wrote 'Mike Dobbs has been an astute and enthusiastic observer of the animation scene for several decades. For this book, he has collected columns originally written for Animato! and Animation Planet magazines (many of which have been revised). The collection offers an immediate and broad-based look at films, TV shows, trends and key figures in the field, including interviews with everyone from South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone and one-man-band Bill Plympton to such voice artists as Popeye's Jack Mercer.'
I: I can honestly say your Springfield book is one of the best books I've ever seen. It should be in every home in the Pioneer Valley.
A: Thank you for that unbiased statement.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to mdobbs@thereminder.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.


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