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Posts from the ‘Life’ Category

What’s really gone with the wind

“The American population is moving toward a minority-majority future, a shift the Census Bureau predicts will occur sometime in the 2040s. Nativists, racists and our president are taking advantage of the browning of America, contrasting it with nostalgia for a perceived better, whiter past, and using that idea to activate citizens into white nationalist thinking.”       – Heidi Beirich

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that monitors racially based and gender-based hate in the U.S., two statistics stand out: The number of monitored hate groups in 2018 was at an all-time high at 1,020 and hate-based murders conducted by members of the “Alt-Right” made last year the deadliest year ever (presumably, not counting the Jim Crow era when the KKK got rid of more people).

As Beirich notes, the so-called browning of America is leading to a rise in white nationalist thinking. Often-criticized today, the movie “Gone With the Wind” painted the days of slavery with a sad and nostalgic brush for those who owned the plantations and participated in gracious living based on purportedly honorable and sacred traditions. Now there are a lot of people worrying about the fact that, according to the Census Bureau, the United States will become “minority white” by 2045, whith whites comprising 49.7% of the population. At that point, the demographics are expected to be 24.6% Hispanic, 13.1% blacks, and 7.9% Asian.

This is the problem, not the solution. Wikipedia photo.

So it is that what will really be gone with the wind for frightened white people are the times when more whites lived in the U.S. than all other races combined. Hate groups are reacting as though whites will be less numerous than every other group rather than continuing to have nearly a majority. Nonetheless, the predicted demographics represent change and, on the surface, that scares people.

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that when my brothers and I were in junior high school, we used to build sandcastles on the beach during low tide and then make a game out of seeing how long they could hold out against the incoming high tide. This is what white supremacists are doing today–except it’s not a game. It’s a deadly and disgusting war against minority groups that’s being carried out by thugs who believe they will no longer be about to hold their own without relying on the traditionally high percentage of whites in the country.

That is, they fear that on a level playing field, their real or imagined inferiority will make them lose.

Lose what? Control, I suppose. An edge, probably. The luxury of never having to coexist with other races, cultures, and religions, no doubt. Walking down streets, walking into stores and churches and sporting events and backyard barbecues with the confident assurance that everyone one else there is exactly like them, good, bad, and ugly, but safe and understood without having to think.

Those with self-confidence in their own abilities, agility to adapt to changing times, a spirituality that embraces the totality of humankind, and minds that know how to think rather than reacting to every difference as a threat will have no problem with the demographics of 2045. Those who do not are, at best, dinosaurs in their death throes who are resorting to hate as a sand-castle bulwark against the incoming tide.

White supremacists are doomed, and in their heartless hearts, I think they know this. Rather than change or at least graciously step onto ice floes heading out to sea, they are attempting to justify their murder and terrorism as a reasonable response to their demise. They’re not innocent. They’re killing the innocent, though

Which prompts me to say, the country will be much better (more free, fair, exciting, and more creative) when they are gone.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Katy thinks my bedtime reading is annoying

Katy and her spooky reflection

Katy is a giant Calico cat.

She becomes annoyed if things run behind schedule. One thing, in particular, is how long I read in bed before turning off the light.  I read for about twenty minutes. That’s all. Katy is there, of course, griping if I pay her no attention. She is leaning against me while I read, sometimes pushing on the book on my lap, sometimes learning her head against my hand, sometimes stalking around the bed in disgust when I read longer than “necessary.”

What she wants is for me to turn out the light and go to sleep. That means she can lie on top of my legs and go to sleep. I have no idea why she thinks that’s a comfortable place for her to be.

The odd thing is, if I’m tired and skip the reading and turn off the light immediately, she doesn’t know what to do. She prowls around the bed, walking back and forth across me like I’m part of the covers, leaves the room, comes back, and finally settles down. It’s much better for me to fake reading a book for five minutes than to put up with all that.

I’ve tried to teach Katy how to read, but she doesn’t grok the concept. I’ve tried to explain to her that when I’m reading about a bunch of good guys who are about to walk into an ambush, I need a few more minutes to see what happens.

Her response is usually, “I don’t give a shit.”

I don’t think that’s very friendly, but then I guess she learned her profanity from my wife and me during times when we were ticked off about something on the news. So now, as I write this, it’s suddenly 4 pm, and Katy and her sidekick Marlo are acting totally aggrieved because I’m one minute late with their 4 p.m snack.

Gosh, who’s in charge here, anyway.

We were warned early on when we adopted these cats that Calico cats are filled with attitude. “How bad could it be?” we asked. Now we know.

–Malcolm

Some people wonder why the main character in my Florida Folk Magic series of novels is a cat. If you have to ask that question, you don’t know how pushy cats can be.

 

A broken man lives on my street

Years ago, he made a mistake in the name of love. He still remembers when he was the sun and she was the moon. Now he reads the news reports about global warming and believes down to his marrow that Earth’s problems are his fault.

He told me not to reveal his name because people would say, “Well, that old man is full of himself, thinking he has or ever had the power to play a role in climate change.” Naturally, a few people would believe him and they’d kill him or put him in a home (he’s not sure which of those fates is the worst.)

The year it began, there was a war on. People were crazy, wild, prepared to live on the edge before they were sent to the front. So, he met a girl who claimed beneath the starry sky on an October night that her true name was Mother Nature. He didn’t believe her then because Mother Nature was a figure of speech and if she wasn’t a figure of speech, why would she want him when there were plenty of kings and queens and Hollywood celebrities available?

“You have a heart of gold,” she told him. She must have known he had always wanted a heart of gold or that he was otherwise susceptible to the feminine wiles of any lady who noticed the guy with the Coke bottle glasses who had never been on a date.

They became lovers. He told me that she taught him everything he knows about love and sex but that now he’s too old to use any of that information. Their daughters were hurricanes and their arguments were droughts, but heaven help him, he was addicted to her charms and her power.

Their liaisons were secret. They met in sheltered rooms and other uncertain places. While both of them wanted to go dancing, have wonderful meals at fine restaurants, partake of Broadway plays and theme parks, her power and beauty attracted too much attention. So they hid in the backs of rental cars and met behind abandoned buildings.

“She was my heroin,” he told me, “but I didn’t care until I finally understood that she was not truly a human woman and that she was transforming me (without malice) into an inhuman man. No man can sleep with a goddess and remain unscathed. If you read mythology, you know that.”

So he broke it off.

She went after him with global warming inasmuch as she wasn’t used to men turning her away before they died in her bed. Today he looks out the window at the endless rain and wonders what any sane man would have done in his shoes even though he feels certain he’s too broken to be sane. He’s thinking about going back to her since that’s the only thing he knows that will stop her fury.

“If I could turn the clock back to the day we met,” he said, “I wouldn’t change a thing. That proves I’m just as crazy as everyone else who looks back on the stupid things they did when they were young and knows they’d do it all again if they could.”

The last time I drove by his house on the way to town, I saw him sitting on his front porch with a cigarette and a Mason jar of moonshine. He was waiting for her even though he knew she would be the death of him.

Most of us would be, wouldn’t we? Our mistakes have become our fondest memories.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism novels and short stories, including the recently released “Widely Scattered Ghosts.”

 

 

 

Another ‘this-and-that’ post

  • 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

I went grocery shopping a day early to avoid the rush

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

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

“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

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?

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

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