Ten Things That Inspire Me
--James F. Muench, 9/12/13
1. Shakespeare – the way he weaves a story is awesome.
2. Shakespeare’s Pizza, Columbia, Mo.’s gift to western civilization. I say that only half in jest.
3. Well-written movies, plays, TV shows, books and speeches: I watched MLK’s full “I Have a Dream” speech the other day and was really moved. I don’t know that I’ve seen the whole thing before. It is right up there with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech. And Obama’s speech on Syria this week wasn’t bad either.
4. Mark Twain (I like his authenticity and humor) and Ernest Hemingway (I like the mechanics of his style).
5. Friedrich Muench, and Georg, his brother. Friedrich was my great, great, great grandfather – also a writer. Friedrich led the Giessen Immigration Society to Missouri in 1834. It was an attempt to build a democratic German colony in the New World. Although it didn’t work out as planned, they accomplished great things over here, such as helping to keep Missouri in the Union during the Civil War. The brothers lived according to their ideals. Friedrich was the writer and thinker, and Georg was the doer, working politics behind the scenes and even helping to rescue runaway slaves.
6. History – “There is nothing new in the world except the history you don’t know.” -- Harry S Truman. (There’s no period after the “S” because it didn’t stand for anything. When you look at what Truman accomplished during his presidency, it’s a staggering list, which is ironic that he was a guy who came out of the corrupt Pendergast regime in K.C.)
7. Missouri Generals, especially Will Doniphan, Sterling Price, U.S. Grant, John Pershing and Omar Bradley, the generals I wrote about in my first book, a work of non-fiction (Five Stars: Missouri’s Most Famous Generals, Univ. of Mo. Press, 2006). That book needs a home too.
8. Jack LaLanne -- My grandmother had me doing workouts with him as a little boy visiting her house once or twice, and that juicer he was peddling at the end had to give him serious indigestion as an old geezer.
But what I really found inspiring was his involvement with the jumping jack exercise. Black Jack Pershing invented jumping jacks while serving as a tactical officer at West Point. The laundry complained that they couldn’t keep the cadets’ white pants clean because Pershing kept making the cadets drop and give him twenty. So Pershing lined them up in rows, with the first row doing the arm movements and the next doing the legs. So where did Jack LaLanne come in? He’s the marketing genius who put the two together and patented them as the “jumping jack movement” in the 1940s. That’s brilliant marketing. P.T. Barnum had nothing on Jack L.
9. Music – Vocal in church (I’m a singer), 1970s-‘80s vintage rock that gets your blood boiling, and hot jazz.
10. Good, vetted, accurate journalism, of the kind we don’t see much of anymore – when accuracy counted more than speed. I’m talking about the kind when a grizzled editor would tell the reporter, “We aren’t going to press with that until we’ve got three credible sources.” Today, as long as any old blog screams it, it must be right. I hate that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James F. Muench is an author, free-lance journalist, public relations consultant and writing instructor.
His first novel, The Teutonic Cross, was published in May 2013 by Silver Tongue Press of Milwaukee, Wisc. His first book, the non-fiction Five Stars: Missouri’s Most Famous Generals, was published in 2006 by the University of Missouri Press.
After working for more than a dozen years as a strategic communicator with the State of Missouri, Westminster College and the University of Missouri, Muench launched his second career as a free-lance writer and consultant in 2001. Muench’s byline has appeared in such periodicals as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Columbia Daily Tribune, the Columbia Business Times, Inside Columbia, Columbia Home and Lifestyle, Jefferson City Magazine and Sports Illustrated for Kids.
Before going solo, he served as director of communications for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, director of public information for the Missouri Division of Energy, director of publications and media relations for Westminster College and science writer for the MU News Bureau.
Muench holds a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in English-Creative Writing from Westminster College and a master’s degree in print journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In the past, he taught English composition at MU and Westminster College and public relations at Stephens College. At present, he teaches basic news writing at Mizzou and developmental English at Columbia College.
Muench and his wife, Fran, will celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary in July 2013 and live in Columbia, Mo. They have two children: Nolan, 20, and April, 16.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Heinrich Kueter, just returned to the United States from the Filipino War, moves to the small town of Franklinton, Missouri. Thankful to be done with the war, he is ready to settle down and resume a peaceful life. His job as history instructor at the local college should help him attain this. He even finds love, but life in this small town is not as peaceful as Heinrich had hoped. Discrimination rears its ugly head, and as hard as Heinrich tries to remain out of it, circumstances demand that he become involved and stand up for what is right.
PURCHASE THE BOOK