A shortlist of stuff

  • Today’s bad weather in Georgia came and went between dawn and noon. No tornados. Blowing rain and river flooding.
  • Just wondering why I didn’t write Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. A comment from the character Miss Harty about Billy Sunday sets the tone for the novel: “There was great excitement. Mr. Sunday got up and declared at the top of his voice that Savannah was ‘the wickedest city in the world!’ Well, of course, we all thought that was perfectly marvelous.”
  • Regardless of which side of the political divide we live on, I think all of us are tired of the crap at the Mexican border. We don’t need to mistreat people, nor do we need to be emotionally brainwashed into letting everyone in. This isn’t rocket science.
  • I guess I’ve led a sheltered life. I’ve been vaccinated against mostly everything and haven’t given it a second thought. Now with COVID, I’m learning there are people whose distrust of vaccines is (for them) like holy writ. I don’t understand that. But it does raise the question about whether or not forced vaccinations and vaccination cards are too much government. I see this as rather like the Brits mandating blackout curtains during the blitz: it makes us all safer as long as the cops don’t hassle us on the street asking to see “our papers.”
  • The ninth book in Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series Go Tell The Bees That I’m Gone will be published this year (I think). I’ve read all the primary novels in the series, but few of those based on secondary characters. Who knew when this storyline began that reading it would be a lifetime pursuit? But I’ll probably get a copy after we get out of the expensive hardcover phase of book releases. I’m a Scot. I’m cheap even though I met Diana years ago in Atlanta.
  • A friend of mine will probably have to drive several states away from her home to look after her aging parents again. Her last visit was more dear than she expected and yet she wonders why none of her siblings will lend a hand. She’s just as busy as her siblings, but they have unending excuses for not helping. Elderly parents often make decisions that make life harder for their children, and usually, the difficulties are left to the oldest daughter to solve.
  • The Glacier Park employees’ reunion will take place this summer at Many Glacier Hotel. They happen from time to time but are too far away for me to attend. Everyone was worried about access to the east side of the park, but the Blackfeet Reservation has announced it will be open for travelers going to the park (unlike last summer). I will miss it more than I can say.

–Malcolm

I’ve written several novels set in the park.

Potpourri for March 14

Potpourri is a mixture of dried, naturally fragrant plant materials, used to provide a gentle natural scent, commonly in residential settings. It is often placed in a decorative bowl. – Wikipedia

Actually, potpourri makes me sneeze, so I never saw the attraction. However, as always, my potpourri posts are unscented. So, if you sneeze while reading this, it means you haven’t dusted your house for a while.

  • My publisher tells me that production of the Fate’s Arrows audiobook is on schedule and sounds great. As I slowly work my way through Weeping Wall, my novel in progress, it’s nice to see something new en route to Amazon.
  • The male, short hair, black-and-white kitty who has adopted us after being dropped off on our country road by some nefarious person is slowly working his way into our hearts.  Were refuse to name him until we have a chance to take him to the vet to be checked out. Right now, he is simply OC, for outside kitty. Our inside kitties are curious but aren’t above hissing at him when we open the front door.
  • Other than sore shoulders, no apparent side effects from our first Moderna COVID shot. Nice to have that out of the way. Maybe we’ll be able to visit the granddaughters in Maryland this year since COVID cancelled last year’s planned trip.
  • I’m finally getting around to reading Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane. My nightstand is always overflowing and my wish list on Amazon is infinite. It’s a nice change of pace from John Hart’s The Unwilling. Being an old-fashioned sort of person, I’ve always preferred the term “firefly” to “lightning bug.” 
  • My GP has kept my prescriptions in place even though I haven’t seen him for a while. I said I thought doctors’ offices were dangerous for people my age until I had my COVID vaccinations. Fortunately, he agreed.
  • On a bit of a political note, I’m really getting tired of turning on the news and seeing that there’s more unrest in Portland and elsewhere. We have much to do to fix everything that’s broken, but it will take time. The violence from those riding the protestors’ coattails isn’t helping.
  • It’s time to change my Facebook cover photo. So, in hopes of seeing some springtime weather soon, here’s the new picture compliments of NPS Glacier National Park:

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of paranormal, magical realism, and contemporary fantasy short stories and novels.

Are professional chefs nasty?

If you watch “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsay or “Chopped” hosted by Ted Allen, perhaps you’ve noticed that a fair number of the contestants on both shows present themselves as badass competitors who will wipe the floor with the scum they’re competing against.

Ramsay, of course, is well known for his volatile, profanity-filled approach to the show while the “Chopped” host and judges are unfailingly polite.

What my wife and I wonder is this: in “real life” away from the TV shows, are the chefs who appear nasty, or are they simply posturing like school-yard bullies on TV? For all I know, maybe the shows’ producers force them to act like people raised in a bad-neighborhood gang.

I know one thing for sure: If I go to a fine restaurant, I don’t want any of these chefs getting close to my food. As best I can tell, Gordon Ramsay and the judges on chopped really know how to cook, though they do like meat that’s too rare for me. Many of the contestants, who hold chefs’ jobs around the country, seem to know how to cook as well.

But the language, the arrogant posturing, and the excessive number of tattoos are a turnoff. Yes, I know, at my age I’m out of sync with everyone who’s 40 years younger.  But I do know how to cook without making what happens in the kitchen sound like a gangland activity.

Malcolm

Pat Conroy knew how to cook, and you can find evidence of that in his novels. I can’t cook at Conroy’s level, though I still hope you enjoy my books.

Potpourri (unscented)

  • The weather forecaster(s) who predicted a lot of north Georgia snow yesterday were wrong–not that I’m complaining. There were a few flakes around, mostly two-legged.
  • Those who know a cat has adopted us want us to name it. Look, we’re already feeding him and trying to keep him warm. We’ve referring to him as OC (outside kitty) but people want something better.
  • My former publisher Vanilla Heart Publishing has closed due to health problems of the owner. 
  • I was happy to see that one of the first things President Biden said he wanted to achieve was unity. I hope he can do this and that the unity includes voters from all parts of the political spectrum–because if it doesn’t, we won’t really have unity will we?
  • This is not a good time to live in Texas or have anything to do with managing the state’s power grid.
  • Gosh, all the old “What’s My Line” shows are available to YouTube. Fun to see a few of them again after all these years.
  • As I discovered with “tennis shoes” some years ago, expensive hearing aids don’t last any longer than cheap hearing aids. So, I ordered another pair of the cheap ones and am happy to say I can hear what my wife’s talking about.
  • Rush Limbaugh has died. I never listened to his radio program because I didn’t agree with him. Yet, I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone.
  • I keep wondering why my top post is an old one about graveyard dirt.  If you need to ask me about it, you’re probably going to get hurt. Just saying.
  • Serena Williams’ last tennis match aired at 3:00 a.m. No, I didn’t stay up to watch it. I do intend to watch her Australian Open match tonight against Osaka at 10:00 p.m.

  • I continue to work on my next novel, Weeping Wall, set in Glacier National Park. I seem to be writing slower than ever. Most be getting old.
  • Next week, I’ll be getting my semiannual anti-cancer shot. I don’t like the fact that it causes random hot flashes. Oh boy, I can hardly wait.
  • I’m currently reading a David Baldacci novel to take a break from Shuggie Bain which, though it’s well written, is filled with people who are messed up.

Malcolm

Saints and Sinners

The New York Times used to highlight the good and the bad of recent issues in a publication for employees only called “Saints and Sinners.” As a journalist, my father got a copy which I always enjoyed. That said, I’ve stolen the title for my own list of saints and sinners:

  • Sinner: Proud Boys. So far, they have nothing to be proud of.
  • Saint: Sarah Thomas officiating at the Super Bowl. First lady to do this.
  • Sinner: Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church for singing a ramped-up, styled-up rendition of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl rather than what Francis Scott Key wrote.
  • Saint: Amanda Gorman, for using poetry to inspire us all.
  • Sinner: U. K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson for stonewalling another Scottish independence vote and for not bothering to comb his hair.
  • Saint: Dr. Fauci for trying to keep the national response to COVID on a realistic, science-based track.
  • Sinner: Rand Paul for running and serving as a Republican rather than as a Libertarian.
  • Saint: Helen Mirren just for being who she is.
  • Sinner: Various “anchors” on Fox “News.”
  • Saint:  Elizabeth Kolbert for writing Under a White Sky.
  • Sinner: Government of Pakistan for banning the Oscar-hopeful film”Zindagi Tamasha”
  • Saint: Hope, the SUV-sized UAE mission to Mars.
  • Sinner: Myanmar’s military coup that placed the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.
  • Saint: The New York Times for a new documentary titled “Framing Britney Spears,” which has aired in the US.

Malcolm

Paying for a new intersection based on the needs of a business in a residential area

We live on a narrow rural road in an area zoned for farms and residences. We have complained numerous times about the grading/hauling business across the road because it lowers the value of our home to prospective buyers. The county isn’t listening.

Adding insult to injury is the fact the business brings heavy equipment into its compound via tractor-trailers that can’t make the turn onto our narrow road without dragging the trailer section through the right-of-way on three sides of the intersection. This creates a constant mudhole, one that certainly doesn’t help property values.

So for the past several weeks, the county has been “improving” the intersection by: (1) Putting in new drainage culverts, (2) Creating a wider section of the pavement so the tractor-trailers can turn without cutting across the grass, (3) And today, apparently widening the road several feet up the road from the T intersection.

We want to complain. But when we do, we get nasty e-mails from the illegal business that basically ask us why we’re causing trouble. We keep pointing out that the neighborhood isn’t zoned for business, much less industrial. They seem deaf to that concept and believe they have the right to do whatever they want on their own property.  And once the nasty e-mails have come and gone, the county lets the business keep operating.

So, everyone out here is paying higher taxes for road repair so an illegal business can keep operating. Yes, I know there’s a good-old-boy attitude out here that says it’s okay to sneak past the regulations whenever you can. But I draw the line when it harms a property owner’s neighbors.

We feel rather stuck because we need to get out of here but we’re not sure anyone will buy our property. When we had this house built, we played by the rules. It’s too bad the county doesn’t feel the same way about the nearby property owners.

Malcolm

P. S. If 10,000 of you will each buy all of my books, we might be able to escape this neighborhood. Just a thought.

This and That

  • Before I lived in the country, I always wondered why so many roadside mailboxes were messed up. Everyone said the cause was mailbox baseball, you know, driving down the road in a pickup and smashing mailboxes with a bat. Our mailbox has been busted twice, first by a semi-truck that was too big for the road pulling out and knocking it off with a side mirror. The second was the right-of-way mowers who ran into it with their tractor. Now I understand why some folks build brick structures that enclose their mailboxes. This time the thing is skewed and no amount of bending will twist it back into shape so the door will close. I guess I’m going to the hardware store tomorrow.
  • Another nice review from BigAl’s Books and Pals from another reviewer. Writers love this! Both reviewers liked the novel, but their approaches to the review were very different. And one of them is from the UK, and that means there are a big culture and dialect barriers she had to wade through–about like me trying to review J. J. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy which was filled with British slang that we don’t hear in the States.
  • Wow, both of our cars are working at the same time. One is a GM product and one is a Ford product. My wife and I grew up on opposite sides of the great divide between GM families and Ford families. We inherited the Ford at about the same time our 1997 Saturn finally stopped working a few years ago. We’re old school: that means we don’t buy foreign cars.
  • We watched an interesting Walter Winchell documentary on TV last night, wondering how many people today have a clue who that is. He was a real presence on radio, TV, and the newspapers when I was growing up. Hung out at the Stork Club (well!). Personally, I think he would fit in with today’s agenda-driven reporting.
  • My publisher and I are still waiting for the printer to get the colors right for the dust jacket for the hardcover edition of Fate’s Arrows. (The paperback is currently available in bookstores via their Ingram Catalogue.)
  • My wife made a quiche for supper and you can’t have any.

Malcolm

Everyone matters except who you’re with

The first time I learned how invasive cell phones can be, happened when we invited an old friend over to dinner. We had no sooner dished up the food, when his phone rang and he said, “I’ve got to take this.” I wish I’d said, “No you don’t.” So he talked for a while about unimportant things, without having enough sense to step into another room or outside, so we couldn’t talk to each other or, if we’d had multiple guests, to anyone else at the table.

I don’t know enough about cellphones to know whether there’s a way to call somebody that indicates whether the call is urgent or whether the call is just to chat. As an old codger, I think it’s rude when cell phone users allow incoming calls to take precedence over the people they’re talking to in person–unless there’s an “emergency” ringtone or symbol.

Years ago, I worked for a company in which managers and others were required to always answer their work cellphones. Picture this. Eight of us are having a department meeting while three of those attending are talking on their cellphones while the rest of us do what–sit and wait, I guess.

When it comes to family groups and friends, I don’t understand the point of meeting for dinner at an expensive restaurant if three or four of the people are busy texting rather than participating in the conversation. No wonder people say we’re all turning stupid: we’re not listening.

I often think we’re being heard. I invite you out for coffee to tell you about a problem, your phone rings, and you say, “I’ve to take this.” From what I can hear of your side of the conversation, it’s just chit chat. What I want to do is throw down enough money on the table to cover the bill and leave.

If I stay, what’s to be gained? The people who say “I’ve got to take this” are stealing time from the people they’re with, and discounting them as well. No wonder so many people feel alone and isolated in our brave new world of instant communication.

Malcolm

The Kindle version of Malcolm R. Campbell’s novel “Fate’s Arrows” will be on sale on October 4th for 99 cents.

Stormy Weather – thanks, Laura

Everyone and their brother has recorded “Stormy Weather” since Ethel Waters sang it at the Cotton Club in 1933. I like the song a lot. I also like stormy weather.

If you’re a fan of the Seth books, you know that those books suggest that the weather we experience is the weather we draw to us. I think this is true. However, I really need to finish mowing my yard and I can’t do that when the grass is wet. It’s been wet for weeks.

Now, a Cat-4 hurricane is coming ashore, after which it will pass just north of our house en route to the Atlantic where, perhaps, it will become a Cat-5 storm. In no way, do I want more stormy weather in our neighborhood. So, I’m blaming the whole mess on people in Texas.

Yes, I know, you probably didn’t realize that your upset about one thing and another drew Hurricane Laura to your doorstep. Please, if you need to do this again, keep the storm there rather than letting it escape just north of the Georgia/Tennessee line.

We’re already wet.

Malcolm

Never Let Your Parents Look at The Used Car You Want To Buy

When I was in high school, my parents agreed that the family chauffeuring, which included three paper routes, would go a lot more smoothly if I had a car. Used, of course, but no problem.

Two cars were in the running, both selling for $400:

The Car I Wanted

1959 Jag (Wikipedia Photo which looks a lot better than the used model I was looking at.)

The Car I Ended Up With

1954 Chevy (Wikipedia Photo)
  • The Jaguar was for sale by the owner; the Chevy was on the used car lot at a dealer. My parents thought the dealer option was a more reputable way to buy a car.
  • The Jaguar was a foreign car and we were basically a “General Motors Family.” Plus, the Jag had a manual transmission and the Chevy had an automatic transmission. (I learned to drive on cars with a manual transmission.) Automatic transmissions screamed middle class as opposed to screaming hot rod.
  • I never got a chance to tell the guy selling the Jaguar to drive like a grandma while showing us the car. No, he had to wind it all the way out in every gear. It was fast and loud and not the kind of sedate car my folks wanted me to be driving.
  • As it turned out, the Chevy had a lot of problems with it (used more oil than gas, wouldn’t always start (especially in North Florida’s “cold” weather), had one window that wouldn’t roll up, etc. We only kept the car several years before all of us were fed up with it. I’m sure the Jag was perfect and that I’d still be driving it today.
  • Using my experience: tell your folks you’ll go get something and for them not to worry about it. If they’re helping pay for it, agree upon a price and stick to it (to prove they can trust you).

My wife is amused that if this subject comes up, I’m still as ticked off about it now as I was at the time.

Malcolm

P.S. I’ve used that Chevy as one of the “bad characters” in my stories, aptly named “The Green Smoker.”