Category Archives: Life

Another ‘this-and-that’ post

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  • This week’s thriller (my escapist reading) was The Terminal List by Jack Carr. It’s one of the most high-pitched novels I’ve read in a while. It’s hard to say anything about it without spoiling the story. Suffice it to say, when a SEAL team walks into an ambush, the bad guys turn out to be Americans out to make a buck rather than ISIS or the Taliban. The LCDR in charge of the team is more than ticked off about the loss of life and who’s responsible for it. Written by a SEAL, a few parts of the story are blacked out because the powers that be thought he gave away too much.
  • My editing changes for an upcoming book of short stories called Widely Scattered Ghosts have been sent to the publisher. Now we’re waiting for a proof copy to see if any fixes need to be made before the book is released. You can see what it’s about on my website’s Spotlight Page.
  • I’ve also been working on a rather dark story about a man who was put in a rest home because his kids thought he was spending all the money they “deserved” to inherit. This story has been sent off to a magazine that’s very hard to get into, but I always remain hopeful about these kinds of things.
  • I seldom unfriend people on Facebook. I did today because, in a thread about rape, she said it’s not up to women to fix the rape problem. I didn’t disagree but suggested that while we’re looking for ways to change the rape culture, more women could at least take advantage of defense courses. She said women shouldn’t have to. After more back and forth about that, she said I wasn’t a real man and needed to respect women. I finally lost my patience when she got into slamming me as a person rather than debating the issue.
  • Speaking of websites, I’ve spent some time lately trying to make my website more interesting. I see the visitor counts going up, so perhaps some of the new pictures and copy are luring people back for multiple visits. Now, we’ll see whether any of those people buy my books which, of course, is the point of having an author’s website.
  • For reasons unknown, my old post about fairy tale structure still gets more visits every week than most of my other posts combined. Those of you who like fairy tales might enjoy this new collection of re-imagined fairy tales by Dora Goss. I’m enjoying it. I’m a long-time fan of her writing, including¬†The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and its sequel European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman.
  • I tend to post quotes on my Facebook profile at the end of the day. My current favorite comes from musician and poet Joy Harjo: “The creative act amazes me. Whether it’s poetry, whether it’s music, it’s an amazing process, and it has something to do with bringing forth the old out into the world to create and to bring forth that which will rejuvenate.” Frankly, I don’t know how the creative act works. That’s why I said in my last post that I get bored reading or talking about it with other authors. We all do what we do without the need for theories.
  • Now, I’m looking for a new story to tell. When an author finishes a story, s/he suddenly feels empty because all the characters have left. It’s like the end of a summer romance. You know it’s going to happen, but you’re never ready for it.

–Malcolm

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I went grocery shopping a day early to avoid the rush

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You: What rush?

Me: Thanks for asking. Maybe I should write a post called “I went grocery shopping a day early to avoid the rush.”

You: This post seems to be breaking the temporal prime directive in some way.

Special Weather Advisory. You are screwed. Three inches of snow will fall between Rome and Summerville on Tuesday. Buy bread and stay off the roads.

Me: You may be right. Okay, about the rush. On Tuesday, north Georgia is supposed to be getting three inches of snow.

You: Is that all?

Me: When I lived in a small town named Zion on the Illinois/Wisconsin border, we still had to go to work when we got three feet of snow. A mere three inches, I wouldn’t even notice. I did drive a Jeep with studded snow tires, but still, we just dealt with it.

You: So why are you worried about Georgia snow?

Me: Georgia snow freaks people out. It makes them all go to the grocery store and buy out all the bread and toilet paper. Nobody knows what they do with it because with several exceptions (1986 and 1993) the snow has little real impact and melts off the roads before a family of three can possibly consumer ten loaves of bread and a 55-gallon drum of milk.

You: Goodness gracious.

Me: Nobody says “goodness gracious” any more. When I checked out of the grocery store this morning, the cashier said. “Where’s your bread.” “I don’t need any bread.” “So what are you going to eat if you get snowed in for 35 minutes?” “Salad.” “Oh, you’re one of those people,” she said.

You: What did that mean?

Me: People in my neck of the woods are meat and potatoes people. They couldn’t tell the difference between a salad and yard clippings. Most of us out here have propane stoves, so if the power goes out for 35 minutes, we can still make a pot roast or venison steak with twice-baked potatoes. I did buy some stew beef. If a blizzard comes, beef stew turns into a comfort food.

You: Even if you Southern types freak out, at least you know how to eat well during the emergency.

Me: Yes we do.

Malcolm

P.S. Click on my name, and you’ll see my website. I know you want to. And I know you know that if you don’t look at it, I’ll be really upset.

 

 

This and that–because I don’t have a wonderful post for today

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Not our real yard. Stole some clipart

I planned to take a car full of stuff to the recycling center this morning but the fog is so thick I can’t see the car.

 

Yes, I’ve used this graphic before!

A lot of my friends are taking Facebook vacations. Primarily, they’re getting tired of all the people posting duelingpolitical memes. Some people must not have jobs because their blogs are filled with links to news stories and essays for one party or the other. This stuff probably isn’t changing anyone’s opinion.

None of the ghosts in my book live in the outhouse.

I finished a book of short stories yesterday and sent the manuscript off to my publisher. They’re all ghost stories, some old, some new. We already have the cover ready. It was done last fall before my wife and I decided to take off for a week at Thanksgiving and see my daughter and her family in Maryland. We took side trips to Alexandria and Mt. Vernon. So, the book had to wait.

Most of the original cast members have moved on.

According to the news, the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” has not been on longer than the medical program “E.R.” which had the record for longevity up to now. As we watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” my wife and I wonder if real doctors and nurses: (a) race into linen closets and empty exam rooms and urgently rip each other’s clothes off several times a day for sex, and (b) talk about daycare, shopping, and their dating problems while performing difficult surgical procedures.

 

Their Corpse Reviver cocktail was tasty.

We enjoyed finding fun places to eat including the Columbia Firehouse Restaurant in Alexandria. It used to be a real firehouse. I was a bit distracted by the blonde who sat at the next table, not because she was a blonde but because she ordered a salad and tore into it with a knife, chopping the while thing up into little pieces in a frenzy. We were taught that you’re not supposed cut a whole plate of food up like that unless you’re serving a child or an old person. I wish I had a video of it because she really looked angry while she was doing it. The video would have gone viral on Facebook.

Malcolm

 

Hate doesn’t help us fix the racism cancer

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“The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Tuesday disapproving of racist remarks by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, amid a wave of bipartisan denunciation.” – NBC News

Representative King reportedly told the New York Times that he doesn’t understand why terms like¬†white nationalist and white supremacist are offensive.

He has a history of such statements.

Wikipedia photo

I grew up with people who felt that way in the 1950s in Florida, a state with a large number of lynchings, bombings, and other KKK activity. I learned to hate these people when I was in the first grade. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to come to terms with such hatred, an emotion that seems natural but that we are told is spiritually indefensible.

Hate, we are told, hurts us, keeps us from understanding those with whom we disagree, and while we are destroying ourselves with it, does nothing to harm those in our gunsights.

My natural instincts are not to understand Steve King and all the others like him who are getting to much media attention these days. My natural instincts are to hate him, despise everything he stands for, and to question his intelligence.

Some people are trying to curtail our freedom of speech these days. I resent that. Mr. King has just as much right to say he loves white supremacists as I have to say that I dislike them. If you look up white supremacy on the Internet, you’ll find articles in which those who believe in it have used pseudo-science and mythology to try to justify their beliefs. Frankly, I think most white supremacists are thugs and have zero tolerance for them.

The media is giving them a lot of attention. I guess we have a right to know, but the skewed attention is giving these thugs a voice that (in my view) they do not deserve while giving the public the impression there are more racists per square mile in this country than there are.

I want to hate Mr. King but the gurus out there say that if I hate him I am really not doing him any harm while it destroys me. Scary thought. People like Mr. King ruled my world when I was a child and now, a half century or so later, I’m hearing that I should deplore the sin while loving the sinner. I’m not there yet.

I may never be there. That’s why I write novels that speak out against racism. They are my atonement for the times I remained silent years ago.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” and “Lena” all of which are set in the Florida Panhandle of the 1950s when Jim Crow was in charge.

 

 

 

 

 

LA Walk To End Epilepsy

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There is no cure.

Loved ones of those suffering from Epilepsy walk to raise money. I know so many people who walk these walks for different medical conditions, it’s almost overwhelming.

“Epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national nor geographic boundaries (World Health Organization). Seizures steal moments and memories, can change lives, impact development, affect learning and can even result in death.”

If you can walk, walk. If you can’t, send a few dollars to those who are.

–Malcolm

Why is it the good, the bad, and the unnecessary that always go viral?

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My trip to Hawaii got messed up when this happened and the cruise line won’t give me a refund.

If you waste more than 15 minutes per day looking at Yahoo news or Facebook, it will be easy to get the impression that everything about the human condition that you really don’t want to know about went viral eight minutes ago and you’re the last to know.

Even deadly viruses are losing out to videos of some guy running over a kid’s new tricycle and rude customers in fast food restaurants screaming at cashiers who won’t sell them an actual whopper instead of a burger with so much bacon on it there’s no room for the bun.

At first, it’s a bit humorous. On Facebook, people use the smiley face a lot to indicate that in an online world gone nuts with the inane and the innocuous, pictures of cats sleeping on a sofa get more attention that announcements that a person has gotten married and/or fallen into a volcano at a scenic location.

Weeks later, folks on your friends’ list hear a rumor about your wedding or the volcano incident and scream, “OMG, when the hell did that happen?” If you say, “It happened the same day you were clicking on hundreds of pictures of cats shredding throw pillows or pigeons throwing up in the back seats of brand new convertibles,” they’ll (the friends) run off in a snit.

As an author, I won 200 Nobel/Pulitzer/Hugo prizes last year and nobody heard about it because pictures of some guy in bed with the wrong bride at a deluxe honeymoon hotel in the middle of a volcano kept grabbing people’s attention. The whole Internet has turned into a hideous car wreck and even people who say they don’t look keep looking.

All of this came to mind today while I was updating my website and happened to see the statistics page that tracks people who almost stopped by but then didn’t because:

  • 10% were looking at a cartoonish video showing a fake snow storm in a fake forest and commenting, “ain’t nature beautiful when it happens somewhere else.”
  • 10% were arguing about the differences (if any) between “to,” “too,” “two” and “2.”
  • 10% were reading the comments at the end of a news story about attention deficit disorder where they thought it necessary to say, “real news has gotten so long these days, I never make it to really horrible stuff that I never used to look at.”
  • 70% were stuck watching a Facebook video of a dog licking its butt in a hurricane while little old ladies couldn’t cross the street because none of the Boy Scouts noticed them.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re not online enough to catch the irrelevance disease or notice the world is going to hell in a handbasket while citizens stare at slow motion videos of hummingbirds having sex.

Scientists warned us all this crap was going to happen but nobody saw the story because they (whoever) were hooked on histrionics.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell has two cats, but them I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of them taking a leak in a birdfeeder on a clear day in Nebraska when they could have noticed they could see forever if they took a minute to look.

 

 

 

 

 

Black-Eyed Peas and Good Luck

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When I was a kid, I hated black-eyed peas because the cooks at the high school cafeteria boiled them into a brown mush that was best used for various construction projects like mortaring bricks together. Or, low-grade library paste.

Does eating them bring good luck? The one year my mother fixed them the traditional Southern way (brown mush) something bad happened. It was so bad, I’ve blocked out what it was. I vowed to never again eat black-eyed peas that looked like mush.

Mother usually served them the way a Midwestern cook would serve regular peas. Those I liked. But nobody else in the Florida Panhandle cooked them that way. Unlike my parents, I liked a lot of traditional Southern foods: boiled peanuts, mullet, grits, rosin baked potatoes, collards, hush puppies, anything out of New Orleans, traditional Southern fried chicken, pan fry bread, sugar cane stalks to chew on, green beans cooked with bacon, plenty of gravy, catfish, and Apalachicola oysters.

Every new year, I see my Facebook friends showing pictures of their January 1 meals with heaping ladels of mushy black-eyed peas. Okay, so my parents came from the midwest and the northwest and didn’t boil peas into a road-tar like mess that could be used to resurface city streets.

No, I’m not totally Southern when it comes to black-eyed peas. Give me a sack of boiled peanuts any day.

Malcolm