STRINGS: A LOVE STORY by Megan Edwards Reviewed by Daniel C. Lavery

               

STRINGS: A LOVE STORY by Megan Edwards  Reviewed by Daniel C. Lavery

I devoured my pre-publication copy as a classical music lover, and one who had an immediate connection with my wife the moment we met some refer to as a soul-mate. Megan Edward’s creative writing shown by spectacular descriptions and themes followed by a phenomenal ending makes a powerful combination. This review is but a skeleton of a much greater whole spanning the lives of two lovers in high school through many years of professional life, marriage, an ugly divorce and many vibrant surprises. STRINGS combines these with a unique classic musical instrument: "The Violin of Angels." We are soon greeted with an unusual love that survived extreme hurdles. Ted Spencer, a rich boy fell for a cleaning lady’s daughter, Olivia de la Vega. They played Lancelot and Guenevere in Camelot at a private school called Haviland with interference from his family who thought he deserved better, and much fickle fate thereafter. His mastery of the violin admitted him to Julliard but separated them when his parents interfered making her doubt his love as one of the many “strings” that obstructed their romance.

Olivia, a stunning beauty, and talented actress, introduced Ted to a different world of Celtic harps, a music festival, and hippies instead of the upper crust of society in which his parents sheltered him. This helped free him from the rigid control his parents and Classical music teachers stressed. At his home his Dad produced a sparkling diamond he had cut for Ted when he married someone acceptable. Soon Ted announced he wanted to marry Olivia and was going to Julliard, not Yale as his father wanted. Taking two cigarettes to lite, he handed one to Ted and informed him if he did, that was the last thing he would receive from him! His parents ensured Olivia would leave the scene by lying that Ted had a girlfriend he planned to marry and had a diamond ring for her. Naturally, she failed to show at a time Ted asked for her to join him at their secret shelter and disappeared.

           

(Megan Edwards)

 

As fate would have it, Olivia found work in Television and soon became a talented actress in Los Angeles, married, and named her daughter, “Theodora.” Meanwhile, Ted developed his violin expertise at Julliard, played at Carnegie Hall, and became Concertmaster with the Vienna Philharmonic. Fast-forward nineteen years when Olivia met Ted at a concert where he played Paganini’s “Last Caprice in A major,” his audition piece for Julliard, “he consigned to his heart along with memories of Olivia too melancholy to open.” Later when she visited during a contentious divorce, he bought a tiny porcelain ballerina that pirouetted before a mirror to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” as a present for her seven year-old daughter, Teddy.

 

After another hiatus, Ted met Sophie Reinhardt who helped his career take off while they lived together noting her “pale blonde hair swirled in soft unruly curls to her shoulders” while “her confident grey-blue eyes met his gaze.” Divorced five years, she was free and helped his career blossom during their extended affair. So successful his career became from their liaison, he bought an eight bedroom three story home with four fireplaces at Westchester County in Sleepy Hollow next to his Rockefeller neighbor!

 

Soon Olivia’s letter from Malibu re-connected them. Her husband of ten years had died leaving her the entire contents of his study which contained an extraordinary violin: Joseph Guarnius…1742 HIS! She asked him to appraise this gift since he had become a violin expert and exclaimed, “It wasn’t the amazing Violin that made his head damp, but Olivia returning to his life!” When she arrived he set up his fiber optic camera. The remainder of the process unfolds like a Sherlock Holmes mystery revealing a violin, The Merino Rose, worth millions. Ted generously made a bequest of this gift to Teddy for her future. The spectacular ending on a beach at sunset, waves crashing, the sand turning gold, and the wind blowing in Olivia’s hair, left this reader in tears with Ted’s final words: “You and I have a symphony to finish.” Readers will want to order a copy to fill in the amazing details of this extraordinary and unforgettable fictional romance novel.

 

BIO: Dan graduated Annapolis, navigated a Navy jet, was carrier qualified, and earned NAO wings in Florida, and then a ship to Vietnam with 300 marines. He resigned, turned peace activist, and became a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW, the ACLU, and private civil rights practice. His memoir, All the Difference, describes his change from a pawn in the military to a crusader for justice. http://www.danielclavery.com (Author website)

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A Lucky Love by Chance

Dan and Joan with Shiva in Berkeley

     

We were both at Long Beach State

Met by chance for a blind date

Each of us was passing through

Looking for something to do

Dan-and-Joan-1983

I saw your enchanting smile

And became quite beguiled

Wanting to explore its source

Pulled by your magnetic force

McGrath State Beach Sunset

We strolled down the sandy beach

Afraid I would over reach

Showed many a photo slide

Music for us to collide

Aleksy-as-Batman-and-Joan-1976-300x232

We kissed I massaged your skin

Spent the night unrav’lin

I was leaving for Frisco

Asked wouldn’t you like to go?

Dan-Joan-Aleksey-Sean-and-Brette-Elizabeth-232x300

You smiled and said yes I would

Our eyes and hearts understood

We had touched each other’s heart

Didn’t know we’d never part

Batman Aleksey at Two with Dan 1976

Three children all made us proud

Each gave their best to the crowd

Almost fifty years it’s been

Yes we would do it again!

  Aleksey-Sean-and-Brette-1983-232x300  

Happy Birthday

My Dear Joan

Love Dan

cropped-HKW19750308E_0011-300x273

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12 Things Sigmund Freud Got Right


Freud surely offers much we can use to understand our aggressiveness, denials, defenses, and sexuality. The Nazi's and Communists hated him, and he exposed our American greed to the light of day. Here are a few reasons why we should honor many of this thoughtful and wise man's ideas:

12 Things Sigmund Freud Got Right

Many major ideas by Freud have been borne out and are still relevant today.
May 6 was Sigmund Freud's birthday (born in 1856). It has been more or less 100 years since Freud wrote many of his groundbreaking books and papers on the human mind -- exploring and theorizing about dreams, culture, childhood development, sexuality and mental health. And while some of his theories have been discredited, many major ideas have been borne out and are still relevant today, according to Discover Magazine. They are a roadmap to our minds and are still useful and accepted -- in one way or another -- by all educated people, who grapple with the issues of self-knowledge and human motives. Freud tells a story that few of us want to hear: We do not know ourselves. We do not really know what motivates us or why we do what we do.
           Our conscious thoughts are just the tip of our mental iceberg.
In commemoration of Mental Health Awareness month this May, the following list, compiled with help from the American Psychoanalytic Association, are 12 examples of the gifts Freud left to us. 1) The Unconcious. Nothing Comes "Out of the Blue": Freud discovered that there are no accidents and no coincidences. Even "random-seeming" feelings, ideas, impulses, wishes, events and actions carry important, often unconscious, meanings. Anyone who has ever made a "Freudian Slip" that has left them embarrassed or baffled will attest to the importance of the unconscious meanings of the things we do and say. That time you "accidentally" left your keys at your lover's apartment may have been an accident; but more likely, at least unconsciously, you wanted to go back for more. From dreams, to Freudian slips, to free association -- delving into one's unconscious as a means of unlocking often hidden or denied fantasies, traumas or motivations is still crucial to gaining the whole truth about human behavior. 2) Sexuality is Everyone's Weakness-and Strength: Sex is a prime motivator and common denominator for all of us. It is not a message many want to hear. So high is our disgust for these elementary Darwinian principles -- that led to human triumph over all other living things -- that we spent much of our time denying the dark side of our lives. Even the most prudent, puritanical-appearing individuals struggle greatly against their sexual appetites and expression. One need only look to the many scandals that have rocked the Vatican, fundamentalist churches, politicians and celebrities alike. Freud observed this prurient struggle in men and women early on in Victorian Vienna and extrapolated easily from there. 3) A Cigar is Never Just a Cigar (except when it is): It is a commonly accepted idea in contemporary psychology that everything is determined by multiple factors and also idiosyncratic to the individual. So, nothing is so simply determined. So is it a pacifier? Okay. A penis? Perhaps. A cigar? Sure. However, few would argue that all meanings have profound implications. No controversy here. So go ahead, have a cigar. 4) Every Part of the Body is Erotic: Freud knew that human beings were sexual beings right from the start. He took his inspiration from the baby nursing at the mother's breast to illustrate the example of more mature sexuality, saying, "No one who has seen a baby sinking back satiated from the breast and falling asleep with flushed cheeks and a blissful smile can escape the reflection that this picture persists as a prototype of the expression of sexual satisfaction later in life." He knew, too, that sexual excitation is not restricted to genitalia, as pleasure is achieved through erotic attachment to potentially any idiosyncratically defined area of the body, and most definitely not limited to genital intercourse between a male and female. Even today many people have great difficulty accepting this idea. 5) Thought is a Roundabout Way of Wishing: Freud discovered that the mere act of thinking (wishing and fantasizing) is itself gratifying. In fact, what therapists and psychoanalysts commonly observe is that the fantasy is more mentally and physically stimulating fulfilling than the actual, real life action the fantasy is organized around. Is it any wonder that reality doesn't measure up to the intense, vivid fantasy? Freud's observation that humans' attempt to fantasize things into reality is today fully accepted by neuroscientists as the basis for imagination 6) Talking Cures: "If someone speaks, it gets lighter" From Freud's introduction lecture XXV. Whether an individual's therapy is based in Freudian psychoanalysis or some other form of talk therapy, the evidence is clear that talking helps alleviate emotional symptoms, lessen anxiety and frees up the person's mind. While medication and brief therapy can often be effective in alleviating symptoms, talk therapy uses the powerful tool of the therapeutic relationship. The whole person is involved in the treatment, not just a set of symptoms or a diagnosis, therefore deeper and more lasting change becomes possible. 7) Defense Mechanisms: The term "defense mechanism" is so much a part of our basic understanding of human behavior that we take it for granted. Yet, this is another construct developed and theorized by the Freuds (Sigmund and his daughter, Anna). According to Freud, defense mechanisms are psychological strategies brought into play by the unconscious mind to manipulate, deny or distort reality in order to protect against feelings of anxiety and/or unacceptable impulses. Among the many types of defense mechanisms coined by Freud, i.e. repression, rationalization, projection, denial is perhaps the most well known. Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Denial can be personal-for example denying an addiction or denying a painful life experience-but it can also take the form of denying scientific, social and cultural phenomena -- for example, the reality of climate change or the Holocaust. 8) Resistance to Change: Our minds and behavior patterns inherently resist change. It's new, it's threatening and it's unwelcome -- even when it's a change for the good. Psychoanalysis got this ubiquitous principle of resistance right, and found tools to bring it to consciousness and defeat its stubborn ability to create obstacles to forward movement, both of individuals and groups. 9) The Past Impacts the Present: This might seem like a no-brainer to most of us in 2015, but more than 100 years ago, this was an "ahh-ha" moment for Freud. Today, many of Freud's theories on childhood development and the effects of early life experience on later behavior contribute greatly to helping and treating patients whose lives are stuck in repetitive patterns. 10) Transference: An example of the past impacting the present is the concept of transference, another Freud construct that is widely understood and utilized in today's psychology practices. Transference refers to very strong feelings, hopes, fantasies and fears we have in relation to the important relationships of our childhood that carry forward, unconsciously, and impact present day relationships. 11) Development: Human development continues throughout the life cycle; a successful life depends on adaptability and mastery of change as it confronts each of us. Every new stage of life presents challenges and provides the opportunity to reassess our core personal goals and values. 12) The Price of Civilization is Neurotic Discontent: Freud stated, "The inclination to aggression constitutes the greatest impediment to civilization." Few thinkers have looked so unflinchingly at human aggression as Freud. While the guns of August still echoed and European anti-Semitism grew rife, Freud wrote Civilization and Its Discontents (1929), declaring: "Man is wolf to man. Who ... will have the courage to dispute this assertion?" "Men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved," Freud wrote in 1929, using words as relevant today as then, "but rather, (are) creatures whose instinct (is) aggressiveness." We continue to meet the enemy...and it is us. Yet if we cannot change, what will happen to our civilization?" The Nazi invaders in World War II banned and attacked Freud, as did the Communists afterwards. New Yorker editor David Remnick quotes a Hamas leader saying that Israel must be destroyed because "the media -- it's controlled by the Jews. Freud, a Jew, was the one who destroyed morals." But Freud did not like America. He thought that Americans had channeled their sexuality into an unhealthy obsession with money. He wrote to a German friend after World War I, "Is it not sad, that we are materially dependent on these savages, who are not a better class of human beings?" Ironically, America, in the end, turned out to be a most favorable repository of Freud's exquisite legacy of ideas.
  Blake Fleetwood is a former reporter for the New York Times and Daily News. He taught political science at NYU.

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Dr. Peter Stine’s Excellent Review of All the Difference by Daniel C. Lavery

book cover all the difference

Review of Dr. Peter Stine, PhD, U.C. Berkeley, Professor of English at South Carolina State U., Wayne State U., U. of Michigan;

 

I finished All the Difference, and what a fine memoir it is! I found it totally engrossing. The opening swept me in. I can imagine the pain your mother felt, you felt, and then the contrasting personality of your father, that swimming lesson he gave you, wow. It is so rich in episode, and in particular the chapter describing your shooting the crabs and beautiful bird, your remorse, and Ruthie’s gentle instruction in the holiness of all creatures, even the Golden Garden Spider, struck me. Or your discovery of the sanctity of nature’ beauty on your travels, or of baseball. The writing is lucid and concrete and engaging, you are on your way. Your story that begins in a military family split by divorce and ends with you emerging as a brilliant ACLU lawyer in California is quite remarkable and riveted me for days.

The section on Yokohama I loved, and Eddie is a great glimpse of raw American energy. Your portraits of scrappy uneducated types are consistently strong. Your account of cultural awakening is very well done, a great chapter, especially your discovery that the Japanese were individual beings physically and mentally, that our racist stereotype of them was nothing more. Strong descriptions of nature in your trips with Alex. Your sexual initiation in Yokosuka is cool. I liked the sports here, and Tom’s converting you to fundamentalist Christianity. Good on your religious inquires and the skepticism offered by Jerry’s dad, since the memoir is a long tale of deconversion, overthrowing indoctrination. Your brush with death in the train tunnel was excruciatingly real.

The Civil Rights history delivered by the professor on the Sunset Limited is a bit undigested in the narrative, but probably necessary to educate the reader to the world you will be entering. I admired your gutsy, principled withdrawal from NROTC at Duke, again a dramatic self-definition. Good on learning the brutality of the Old Testament God; it brought to mind Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature. A great account of your religious bible classes and new agnosticism. That freshman Dean of Students calling you a low IQ case is amazing. Your evolving shift from Duke to the Naval Academy is traced in subtle detail, and your account of that Plebe year fascinated and shocked me. Standing up to the two bullying upperclassmen over Civil Rights and then the great portrait of Joe Duff are superb. Dan, you are at your best when, against the odds, you courageously stand up to arrogant and abusive authority figures, whether Duff, the Folsom prison molester, or the landlord threatening his tenant – these moments sparkle, the portrait of malice is stark, your own moral principles manifest.

 

It is harrowing to read of your experience as an aviator on an AR5C, and I remember your telling me about the lethal risks involved in the late 1960s. It was fun to read about your time at Berkeley then, Jerry, your well-described acid trip, Delaware Street, etc. The conclusion of the memoir about your amazing legal work for the UFW, ACLU, your alliance with Jerry, life with Joan, all of it was interesting, totally engrossing. Finally, I noticed throughout the last third of the memoir you labeled the Vietnam War as genocidal, which is exactly right. Thanks for the opportunity to read your terrific book.

 

(Peter Stine is also the founder and editor of literary journal Witness,1987-2007, awarded eight grants from National Endowment For The Arts, and four volumes were reissued as books by university press; his  fiction, poetry, literary essays and journalism are widely published:The Iowa Review, Boulevard,The Threepenny Review, Contemporary Literature,The Cambridge Quarterly,The New York Times, Sport Literate, and Harold Bloom's Modern Critical Reviews. His latest book,The Art of Survival, contains essays on Isaac Babel, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Conrad, ISBN 978-0-9823319-3-4, by Rocky Shore Books, Marquette Mi, 2011)

All the Difference may be purchased from Amazon.com:

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/All-Difference-Daniel-C-Lavery/dp/1482676532/

   

Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/All-the-Difference-ebook/dp/B00BNXHV9Q

   

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BOADR8C

 

Amazon’s Dan Lavery author bio Page

Amazon author page

https://www.amazon.com/author/danielclavery

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All the Difference in Paperback Now!

Hi All: My memoir, All the Difference, is now available at Amazon.com by plugging in the title and my full name in their book search window. Below is a picture of the cover. The inside has about 40 black and white photos that accompany the 40 chapters. If you have a kindle, or other e-format, the price is only $3.99. For those of you who have expressed interest in my book, please consider writing a review after reading it. Amazon has a place to do that. Thank you all for your interest and support. Peace, Love, and Joy. Dan

(Click on each image to expand in order to read or see it in full size)

Here are some Photos inside the memoir of interest:

(RA5C Vigilante about to land on Aircraft Carrier)

(Joan, Shiva, and Dan at Berkeley Apartment 1970)

(Dan on the right pitching for the Morgan Park White Sox Little League Team at M.P.M.A. 1952)

(Dan Hired by the ACLU of Southern California as Director of Farm Worker Project 1974)

(Roommates Denny Lyndon, Dan , and Rich Umfrid at the Class of 1964 Fortieth Reunion  in front of U.S.N.A. Chapel)

a href="http://domainsigma.com/whois/danielclavery.com">Danielclavery.com Trust

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