Friday, April 7

Interview With William Mortensen Vaughan

William Mortensen Vaughan
William Vaughan
We interviewed our Senior Editor, William Mortensen Vaughan, three years in a row, starting in 2012.  His Fiftieth Birthday  Interview Issue is still available, by request, and the ones he granted us in 2013 and 2014 are available online.  Now there's this one, approximately two and a half years later.

La Libertad:  What's new in your life?

William:  I'm hosting a give-away on my new website:


La Libertad:  What are you giving away?

William:  A copy of A Christmas Carol, on D.V.D., starring George C. Scott.

La Libertad:  What would our readers have to do to enter?

William:  They can follow me on Twitter and Facebook, for extra points, but the main thing they need to do, is e-mail me a pic of an Ebenezer Scrooge look-alike, at:

La Libertad:  When is the deadline?

William:  The deadline for this, my first give-away, is midnight, April 30, 2017.  However, I will be continuing to have give-aways indefinitely, in a quest for pics of people who look like characters from A Christmas Carol.

I'm also going to start awarding points for scoring points on my Dickensian Christmas Carol related quizzes.

And the prizes will become more and more lucrative.

La Libertad:  So, it's a contest - not just a random give-away?

William:  That is correct.  I'm using RaffleCopter to track all of the contestants, but it allows me to personally pick the winner, so, on or about May 1, 2017, I will pick the contestant who submits the pic I think most embodies my concept of the character, Ebenezer Scrooge.

RaffleCopter lets give-away creators tailor give-aways an infinite number of ways.  It allows you to assign different numbers of points to different things participants may choose to do, and it allows you to make some things mandatory in order to qualify for the prize.  So, I could assign five points for maxing one of my quizzes, four for scoring eighty percent, and so on.  And only one for following me on Twitter, which wouldn't need to be mandatory.

This is my first RaffleCopter give-away, so I'm still learning, but it seems fairly simple, and I'm looking forward to giving away some prizes to worthy carolers in the months and years ahead.

La Libertad:  What would you like to tell our readers about the last two and a half years of your life?

William:  I sold my home in southern California for enough money to pay off my mortgage, and buy a bigger home, outright, on more land, in Virginia.  No more mortgage or rent for me!  Except when I rent hotel/motel rooms on vacation, of course...

La Libertad:  What is your current occupation?

William:  Primarily, it seems, I am my wife's photographer.  With rare exceptions, I take all of the pictures you see of her at:

I still work for her as the Senior Editor of this magazine, too, of course.  It's interesting to continually interact (and get acquainted) with creative people from all over. I don't think a month goes by that someone doesn't submit something for us to publish.

Recently, I bought the rights to www.AChristmasCarol.US, so I am now the Webmaster of that site.  That's my favorite job now-a-days.

La Libertad:  Why is that? 

William:  Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol premiered on television two months and thirteen days after I was born.  It seems as if I saw it every year, throughout my childhood.  My mother gave me a copy of the book by Charles Dickens, too, which I read.  We also watched live-action adaptations on television.  I don't remember any particular adaptations that I saw as a child, other than Mr. Magoo's, but I remember that the general story was familiar to me more or less all of my life.

Then, the U.S. Army sent me to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where, in the winter of 2006-'07, I saw a live performance of A Christmas Carol, at the Base Chapel, performed by fellow Service Members and D.H.L. [Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn] employees.  I was so impressed, that I became obsessed with A Christmas Carol.

While serving with the Tenth Mountain Light Infantry in Iraq, during Operations Iraqi Freedom VI and Cast Lead, in the winter of 2008-'09, I started collecting copies of adaptations of A Christmas Carol on D.V.D. [Digital Video Disc], which I ordered from various websites - mostly from Amazon and eBay.  I was so retarded about it, that I ended up with multiple copies of some adaptations, some of which I gave to fellow service members and civilian employees who, like me, worked at Task Force Mountain Headquarters, on Victory Base Camp, adjacent to Baghdad.  By the time I left, I had a collection of approximately fifty different adaptations of A Christmas Carol - some, on V.H.S. [Video Home System] tape, but most, on D.V.D.

La Libertad:  How many adaptations do you own copies of now?

William:  Sixty-nine.

La Libertad:  How many are there?

William:  I've seen a list of more than two hundred, but I doubt that many are available on video.  I imagine I will have a hundred, by the time I die, and that will be due, in large part, to the fact that more adaptations are produced every few years, it seems.  I recently acquired several which were released since 2010.

La Libertad:  What is the oldest adaptation, and do you have a copy of it?

William:  I think the first film adaptation of A Christmas Carol was released in 1901; it was called Scrooge (or Marley's Ghost), and no, I don't have a copy of it.  What's left of the  35 millimeter footage has apparently been converted to a video file, and uploaded to YouTube:

La Libertad:  What are the oldest and newest adaptations you own copies of?

William:  The oldest I own a copy of, was released in 1910, and produced by the Edison Film Manufacturing Corporation - yes, a company owned by Thomas Edison, the man who invented the light bulb.  He also filed for a patent on the film camera in 1891.

The two newest adaptations of which I am aware, and which I also own copies of, were released in 2015:  Thomas' Christmas Carol, and another adaptation, starring and directed by Anthony D.P. Mann.

By the way, D.V.D. copies of a Hallmark made-for-T.V. film, It's Christmas, Carol!, starring Emmanuelle Vaugier and Carrie Fisher, recently became available at Amazon, after Ms. Fisher's demise, apparently.

La Libertad:  Which adaptations are your favorites?

William:  Modernized adaptations, such as Ms. Fisher's, as well as Tori Spelling, Vanessa Williams, and Bill Murray's are fairly good.

Mr. Magoo's is still one of my favorites.  My mother and I used to watch any of his cartoons we could on television, which would have been re-runs, because they initially ran from 1960 to 1961, and I was born in 1962.  I was also a big fan of "Gilligan's Island," starring Jim Backus as Thurston Howell III, so the sound of his voice as Mr. Magoo is very nostalgic for me.  It has original song and dance routines, albeit animated, which are humorous, heart-warming, and/or reverent.

I also find The Muppet Christmas Carol immensely entertaining, as well as Maxine's, Mickey's, Bugs Bunny's, and Jim Carrey's.  I think Mr. Carrey's takes the cake for the best, most intense, nap-of-the-earth and aerial footage.  It's also the only adaptation which I've seen in 3D [three-dimensional].  My wife and I saw it at the IMAX [Maximum Image] theatre on the River Walk, in San Antonio, Texas, and it was amazing!

A few others I find very amusing are Albert Finney's, Blackadder's, George Burns', and Rich Little's.  "Thank You Very Much!" and "December the Twenty-fifth" are now among my favorite Christmas carols.  Blackadder and George Burn's adaptations ask (and suggest answers to) the question:  What if Scrooge decided not to be such a push-over?

I consider Rich Little the most talented actor to have ever portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge.  He portrays W.C. Fields in the role of Ebenezer.  He plays virtually all of the other characters in the novel, but being played by other actors, such as John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, Paul Lynde, Jean Stapleton, George Burns, Truman Capote...

La Libertad:  What are your least favorite adaptations?

William:  Scrooge and Marley (2012), Frank De Lima and Don Ho's (1985), and Sid James' "Carry On Christmas" (1969) are the worst and most offensive adaptations I've ever seen.  Scrooge and Marley is so offensive, I never even finished watching it.

La Libertad:  What do you love most about your work?

William:  The thing I think I enjoy most about my work is essentially being my own boss, and not having an actual boss who can fire me for whatever reason, such as not showing up on time, or wearing the wrong clothing, or saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, or refusing to do something I don't want to do.

Every time I wake up, I'm overwhelmed by gladness I'm not in the military anymore.  There were so many people in the military who can kiss my a** so hard!  From supervisors I couldn't stand, to insubordinate subordinates, to people who were just plain stupid and unpleasant.  I often really hated being subordinate to someone who outranked me by Pay Grade and position of authority over me, but who was obviously inferior to me, at least in my opinion.

I spent five years working entertainment gigs in California, and that was very similar, although not as life-encompassing, time-consuming, and soul-sucking, nor as lucrative - at least, not in my case.  I'm done with all those kinds of gigs, too.  I refuse to even apply for another one.  It's too humiliating, and I just don't need the money that bad, thanks to my pension.

I had subordinates in the military, at different duty stations, who expressed concern for what would become of me when I retired.  One promised to hire me.  Another suggested I could work as one of those old people who greets you on your way into Walmart.

Luckily, I never had to have another job after I retired from the U.S. Army, in order to buy a house and a truck outright, and I'm doing just fine without a "real" job, so those people who thought so little of me can especially kiss my a**!

La Libertad:  What talents and hobbies do you have?

William:  I still like to make seamlessly tileable, plaid Wallpaper for Windows Desktops, which I'm adding to AChristmasCarol.US, since plaid can seem so "Christmasy"!

I still like to play Chess, and collect Chess sets.  I received two half sets of pieces today [April 4, 2017]; one set is pink, and the other green, reminiscent of Roswell, New Mexico.  I'm expecting a Queen in the mail, this week, to replace the one the wind or an animal apparently broke on my porch; I used to have a complete set of the Avon perfume bottles which look like Chess pieces.

I also have a Mandarin Chinese and a Peter Ganine set.

My favorite softcopy version of Chess is Toon Clash Chess.  Unfortunately, I am not always able to beat the lowest level.  On other Artificially Intelligent Chess applications, I can usually beat about a half dozen levels, but not on this one!  It only has four levels, but that seems to be more than enough to challenge me.

My father-in-law is the only person who likes to play me in person; he beat me twice today, with my new pieces.

I also enjoy playing Dragon Soul Game, on a phablet my wife gave me.  It's a strategy game which involves team building, and team and time management.  When you sign up for a free account, you are somewhat randomly assigned a team of several Heroes with unique sets of abilities.  Some are healers.  Some are essentially infantry, while others are more like artillery, and others, special forces, going behind enemy lines.  There are various arenas with slightly different rules in which you can send your Team to compete.  As you complete different levels in different arenas, you acquire possessions and experience, with which you build your Heroes and your Team.  Eventually, you acquire more Heroes.  eVaughanezer has collected sixty-one of the sixty-two Heroes available.  (As game updates are released, new Heroes and Enemies become available.)

But you are only allowed to send one to five Heroes into battle at a time.  It's up to you to decide which five to team up, based on the scenario.  Sometimes it's best to send in Heroes who perform magic; sometimes it's best to send in Heroes who inflict more physical damage.  Some situations call for heavy Heroes, and others, tasty.  Some situations call for Heroes who remain in place while shooting or launching projectiles; others require the ability to knock foes backward; yet others, the ability to pierce; and others, the ability to bash, or poison. 

All of this is done with a lot of tongue in cheek.  One Hero is the Centaur of Attention, a centaur archer who shoots arrows with boxing gloves for arrowheads.  Another is a Golden Genie, who turns one of his hands into a cannon from which he rapidly fires chickens.  (No real animals are harmed during the course of this game, unless you get frustrated and throw your smart phone of phablet at one of them, perhaps.)  One Hero, named Cosmic Elf, looks suspiciouly like Mr. Spock on Star Trek.  Instead of a Werewolf, there's a Were Dragon.  (Only Dragons are allowed to compete in one of the arenas; there are fifteen Dragons to collect and choose from, including one named King Kaiju, who looks suspiciously like Godzilla.)  Items you can acquire and enchant include a Healthy Dose of Skepticism (in pill form), Shots of Knightcodene, Dead Eyes, and Jars of Kitten Tears.  (Again, no real animals are harmed...) 

When certain Heroes are promoted to Orange (from Purple Plus Four, not to be confused with Blue Plus Three, or Green Plus Two), they can complete three Legendary Quests to acquire a Special Skill.  Each Hero has an avator in a colored frame, which indicates their rank (or "Rarity"); if there's a Diamond in the upper, lefthand corner of the frame, they have completed their Legendary Quests, and acquired their Legendary Skill.  One quest for the Shadow consists of acquiring and sacrificing Jars of Kitten Tears.  (For the third time, no real animals are harmed...)  Snap Dragon needs Bunny Slippers.  Magic Dragon is a hoarder, who hoards My Pony Keychains.  (For the fourth time, no real animals are harmed...)

Team building can also include other players.  In order to enter the Guild Wars, you have to belong to a Guild with enough players at a certain level, who are willing to participate; they can "opt out."  In the Temples, you can only only fight one of several battles, so you are obliged to "invite" (or beg) your Guildmates to fight the other battles for you.  There is also a job board, from which you can hire Heroes which are potentially more powerful than any of yours, and where you can post one or two of your Heroes to earn extra pieces of Gold.

The game has its own market places, with various currencies, including virtual Gold coins and Diamonds (not to be confused with the Legendary Quest Diamonds), as well as Tokens won in the various arenas, as well as Soul Stones.  Virtual Diamonds and grab bags of items are available for purchase with real money, but I have never purchased any; I see that as a form of cheating.

I have more than a half dozen Dragon Soul accounts, and my best account (eVaughanezer), on Server 4 of 11, is ranked in the top eight thousand.  According to Google Play, this game has been installed between ten million and fifty million times, which would mean that there are an average of, at least, almost a million players per server. It has been rated almost three hundred forty thousand times (Five of Five Stars by more than two hundred forty thousand raters), or an average of about thirty-one thousand times per server, the point being, I'm definitely in the top three percent of the players on Dragon Soul - perhaps in the top one percent.

La Libertad:  Where have you traveled?

William:  I drove my cargo truck back and forth between Virginia and California twice.  Perhaps the most interesting place we stayed was Nashville, Tennessee., where I had a belated birthday dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.  I miss having two Rainforest Cafes as close as I did in Los Angeles County.  The nearest ones to where I live now are in Nashville, Tennessee, and Orlando, Florida.

La Libertad:  What else do you miss about living in southern Califronia?

William:  I miss certain restaurant chains, such as the Claim Jumper, El Pollo Loco, Barney's Beanery, the Elephant Bar, and BJ's.  I can still go to McCormick and Schmick's for a free meal on Veterans' Day, but the nearest ones are in Virginia Beach, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Washington D.C. [District of Columbia].

We still have Olive Garden, Chipotle, Subway, and Sweet Frog fairly close.

New favorites I've discovered are the Red Monkey in Raleigh, Mi Carreta in South Boston, and Macado's, in Farmville.

I'm still looking forward to eating the Fishin' Pig, near Farmville.

La Libertad:  What are your career goals?

William:  I'd like to accomplish two things before I die:

First of all, I want to have perhaps the most impressive Dickensian Christmas Carol related website on the Internet.

Secondly, I want to have the world's largest collection of seamlessly tile-able, plaid Wallpaper for Windows Desktops.

I have a lot of work to do, though, writing reviews and adding wallpapers and other content to my website.

La Libertad:  What links would you like to share?




La Libertad:  What else, if anything, would you like to tell our readers?

William:  If you have any Christmas Spirit, or would like to feel the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come more closely, please visit my new website, read a review, take a quiz, and/or participate in one of my contests!

Interview by Libertad Green

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