Skip to content

Posts from the ‘satire’ Category

‘Moo’ by Jane Smiley

If you were born yesterday, or perhaps last week, you probably haven’t heard of this darkly satirical and nearly farcical novel about a midwestern agricultural college referred to as “Moo U.” I first read it a quarter of a century ago when it first came out. Now that I’m re-reading, I find it just as funny and just as true when it comes to university politics and the misfits who keep schools forever running on square wheels as I did in 1995.

I worked at two universities (not counting student jobs), attended four others, and–along with the rest of the family–followed by father to at least another five as he moved up through the ranks of college professors and deans. Suffice it to say, I know college politics in spades. That’s why I see this novel as the Bible detailing what’s really happening behind all those ivy-covered walls.

In a 1996 interview with Elisabeth Sherwin, Smiley says that she did not model the story after Iowa State University where she was teaching then. She told Sherwin, “I always wanted to write both a tragedy and a comedy on the same theme. ‘A Thousand Acres’ was the tragedy, the theme was American agriculture and technology, and ‘Moo’ was the comedy.”

At the moment, most people know Smiley from her recent “The Last Hundred Years Trilogy: A Family Saga Series” that includes Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age. I liked the trilogy and see it as quite an achievement. But when I first found Jane Smiley’s work, it was her fifth novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres. That one remains my favorite.

Here are a few excerpts from Moo:

“This was an aspect of Barbie-hood that Mary had never given any thought to, that Barbie created Ken, anatomically incorrect to the very core of his brain, where he understood as well as he understood his own name that Barbie was inviolable.”

“He was turning out to be one of those men whose interest diminished as they got to know you. You got into this pattern of trying to be interesting by revealing more and more of yourself, like a salesman unpacking his sample bag, but the man, though he looked like he was smiling and paying attention, was really shaking his head internally—not that, not that either, no I don’t think so, not today.”

“Those Latin American and Eastern European novelists aren’t any help here. They live inside the mansion of female desire as if it is their right. Their own desire is a nice healthy dog on a string, ready to eat, fuck, fetch, piss on the bushes.”

Unfortunately, I can’t find a pithy excerpt that illustrates the dark side of Moo U. I can’t tell you how and why I think Moo is true of some really colleges without libelling a lot of people. If you decide to read Moo, I suggest you wait until after you’ve graduated from college. If you read it before you go to college, you’ll never go to college.

Malcolm

Just Released: ‘Special Investigative Reporter’ by Malcolm R. Campbell

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has released my satirical mystery Special Investigative Reporter, which is a change of pace from my Florida Folk Magic series. At present, the Amazon link is displaying the Kindle edition, but will soon include the paerpback and hardcover editions. The book is also available online at Apple, B&N, and Kobo. Your favorite bookstores can order the book under standard terms and conditions from their Ingram Catalogue.

Description

Now Available

In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City’s inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer.Since

Stewart is not a team player, he doesn’t trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn’t about to change.

Stewart’s girlfriend leaves him, the mayor’s racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops.

Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else. Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that’s all in a day’s work.

Book Within a Book

In the story, Jock Stewart has released some of his columns in a book called Worst of Jock Stewart. That book is real and can be found here.

The Fine Print

This novel was originally released by another publisher under another title (with the words “Sea of Fire” in it), but went out of print. At a time when people are complaining about biased news sources and “fake news,” the novel is more relevant now than when it first appeared.

A Letter From Jock Stewart

Jock Stewart’s letter to prospective readers, which appears on the dust jacket of the hardcover edition, can also be found on my website.

I hope you have a good time reading this satire.

–Malcolm

EPA to Implement Cistern Plan to Solve Rising Seas Problems

Washington, D.C., July 25, 2019, Star-Gazer News Service–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon begin placing rows of used crude oil storage tanks, each capable of holding 16 million gallons of liquid, in the open spaces at solar farms, wind farms, abandoned military bases, and Alien holding cells at Area 51. These tanks will be linked to a vast pumping station and pipeline network that will extract seawater from the oceans to counteract rising sea levels.

At this morning’s press conference, EPA Deputy Manager of Oceans, Leilani Moana reported that while the agency has not reversed its position about the unreality of climate change and related rising sea levels, it recognizes that small, short term climate anomalies are causing a public panic about the future of states like Hawai’i and Florida.

“Since the EPA feels your pain,” Moana said, “our top scientists and engineers  have devised a system of pumping stations, pipelines, and aqueducts to remove water from coastal areas and store it inland until it can be safely released.”

Some of the pumping stations would be tied into desalinization plants that would reduce the pressure on river systems for potable freshwater during times of drought.

According to a NASA white paper, launching water into the sun on Saturn V rockets would be cost-prohibitive even though some experts said such a program would cool the sun slightly, allowing Arctic glaciers to reform to help stabilize sea levels.

“The world’s excess heat is primarily caused by heated arguments about climate change that are turning the entire issue into a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Moana said. She added that groups claiming that the weight of the water in the cisterns would push the U.S. deeper into the ocean are unfounded.

Scientists told reporters this morning that the water held in the cisterns would always remain available to be pumped back into the oceans should weather anomalies ever decrease sea levels to the point where cruise ships were scraping bottom trying to get in and out of popular tourist destination ports.

“The Earth’s water supply is a closed system,” said EPA Chief Oceanographer Porter “Po” Seidon. “The water we have is all the water we have. All we’re doing is improving upon the Creator’s design to better manage that water in times of weird high temperatures or weird low temperatures.”

“We think we’ll have the system up and running before we lose southern Florida,” Moana said.

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

 

 

FEDS Announce Fix to Rising Seas Problem

Washington, D. C., April 27, 2019, Star-Gazer News Service – The U. S. Secretary of Ocean Waters and Rain (OWAR) announced here today that he has directed NASA and NOAA to partner in a “bold new program” to fix the problem of rising sea levels.

“While scientific theories approved by the federal government have yet to prove beyond a reasonable doubt why sea levels around the world are rising,” said OWAR chief Greg Gumo, “we know how to fix the problem whether it’s being caused by spurious global warming theories or the documented impact of more humans and animals peeing in the ocean.”

Gumo said that the idea dawned on him a few days ago when he was looking for extra space in the garage for his patent medicine collection. Departmental wordsmiths translated his musings into a new whitepaper called “All the Space We Need is Right Over our Heads.”

Regulations call for NOAA to transport 55-gallon drums of water–taken only from areas where the ocean is the highest–to Cape Canaveral where NASA will re-purpose Saturn V rockets and blast the extra seawater into deep space. The salt would be filtered out and sold to sea salt companies for use at fine restaurants.

According to OWAR scientists, most of the Earth’s excess sea water will be sent to to Mars, the moon, and other dry celestial objects that can benefit from the introduction of life-giving water.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) suggests that the ALL THE SPACE WE NEED (ATSWN) program will be funded by a new toilet flush tax.

GAO spokesmen Jake Yourin said, “It hasn’t escaped our notice that sea level rise is a function of increasing populations, in short, the rise of the household and industrial wastewater. In the near future, those who pee will be those who pay.”

Number crunchers from several think tanks speculate that people can save money by drinking fewer liquids and flushing less. Meanwhile, drones and satellite imagery will ensure that people don’t start pissing in the woods

Gumo told reporters he expects both houses of Congress to fast-track and approve the enabling legislation since “nobody wants water getting into the basements of coastal hotels and condos even though those structures put pee in the ocean faster than some no-tell motel in Iowa.”

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter.

 

 

 

Novelist accused of hiding subliminal spells in novels

Junction City, TX, 9/22/2018, Star-Gazer News Service–A Local author was picked up by local cops and arraigned before a local judge after 15 local women allegedly died after reading his new novel, Give Me All Your Money, Babe.

During this morning’s news conference, Chief Kruller clarified that the women were dead rather than allegedly dead. “‘Allegedly’ referred to and real or imagined a connection between author Caine Molasses novel and the women’s demise,” said Kruller.

“I wasn’t there when it happened,” Molasses told reporters. “I was busy working on my new novel, Thanks for All Your Money, Babe, a satirical yarn about the gigolo business. I’ve made more money gigoloing than I have writing because today’s readers are buying most of their books from famous writers who are publicized by PR flacks working for big New York publishers.”

According to witnesses, the 15 women died moments after stopping by the Merchants and Farmers National Bank on Maple Street where each of them wrote Molasses a check before dying of supposedly unnatural causes.

“They just collapsed,” said teller Bert Jenkins. “Several of them bit me when I tried to administer CPR, but they died anyway. It’s like they knew their number was up.”

Police said that after interviewing Molasses for 25 minutes, he was “clearly in the clear.”

Reporters learned that Molasses’ muse, Sally Sweetwater, stuck up for him by claiming they were together the entire evening.

“Personally, I think each of the women took an undetectable poison before walking into the bank. They loved Molasses, especially when he called them honey. But they knew that all of them couldn’t possibly marry him because that would be against the law, silly as it may be.”

Coroner Jack Stiff said he never detected any undetectable poison in the women’s bloodstreams during the autopsy.

Stiff, who said that he had seen enough stiffs in his life to determine the cause of death in a matter of moments, said that as far as he could tell, the women died due to an unusual blight of mass hysteria.

“Each of them thought they were the only one he loved,” said Stiff.

According to a white paper file by psychiatrist Sigmund Jung–author of Death Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry–“love kills more people than bullets, knives, or heavy objects in a room.”

“I thought I could juggle all those broads forever,” said Molasses. “I feel really sorry this happened, but luckily I’ll forget about it in a few weeks when I pick up somebody new at the grocery store.”

After the deaths were announced, the Texas Booksellers Associations announced that Molasses latest novel was number one on the bestseller list.

“For every dark cloud, there is a silver lining,” police chief Kruller said.

–Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

District of Columbia Secedes from Union

New Columbia, August 8, 2018, Star-Gazer News Service–In an announcement that came as no surprise to those who saw the writing on D. C. license plates, Washington D.C. seceded from the Unite States at midnight and named itself New Columbia.

“We did it for the same reason the colonies threw off the oppressive yoke of England in 1775,” said Interim head of state, James Otis. “And that is the tyranny of taxation without representation.”

New Columbia officials said the action was taken because petitions for voting rights have been denied, statehood attempts have been stifled, a more provocative slogan couldn’t be agreed upon for license plates, and Maryland refused to consider taking back the 6.34 square mile site.

According to informed sources, New Columbia now controls all the armed forces of the United States inasmuch as those forces answer to the Federal Government.

“Unlike the Secesh of 1861,” said Otis, “we have the military power to stand our ground.”

To emphasize New Columbia’s power, thirteen B-52 bombers carpet-bombed Fort Sumter with red, white, and blue water balloons, leaving Charleston area officials all wet. In a symbolic gesture from an earlier era, New Columbia officials dumped tea produced by American growers into the Potomac River

In related news, California seceded from the United States at 12:01 a.m. since, as officials in Sacramento said, “we’ve been ignoring Federal law for years.” They were quick to point out that they were not allying themselves with New Columbia.

Political analysts believe that Congress will be disbanded soon because it is now made up of officials from outside New Columbia. “It’s largely a money sink anyway,” said Otis.

As of press time this morning, world markets were reacting favorably to the action.

Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

‘The Paramecium Papers’ Banned in All Fifty States

Parents in local school districts across the country have banded together to challenge a proposed new series’ inclusion in K-12 level school libraries and literature classes on grounds that the material: (a) is without Biblical foundations, (b) tends to teach evolution, and (c) scares kids by hypnotizing them into believing purported microscopic organisms in the water are controlling the way they think.

A new group called Ignorant Louts Against Science (ILAS) was hastily formed in Boston last night to provide funds and position papers to beleaguered parents who need legal help in fighting “this insidious new blogging niche.”

“My poor kid little Bobby got so thirsty, he had to be put on an IV to stay hydrated when he was led to believe the water was no longer safe to drink,” said Sue Smith. “My husband inadvertently got him drunk by giving him beer because ‘beer kills those little buggers in the water.'”

The American Civil Liberties Union declined to get involved in the case, arguing that paramecia had no Constitutional rights, except possibly in California,

“Of course, we’ve been drinking the water,” said ACLU spokesperson William Bryan, “so we’ll stipulate that if the paramecia in our drinking water are controlling our thoughts, we may not be thinking straight, legally speaking.”

According to ILAS officials, “Saying paramecia in the water might be controlling our thoughts is like yelling ‘fire’ in crowded theater. Better that we should die slowly over a long period of time if those little critters are real than to trample each other immediately while running like a crazed mob out of libraries and classrooms where bed-wetting liberal teachers are using ‘The Paramecium Papers’ as gospel.”

Sue Smith admitted that there as “an outside possibility” that “The “Paramecium Papers” might be true.

“If the papers are true, the threat from paramecia is like global warming. It’s only going to kill people in the future, so there’s no need getting our panties in a wad about it now,” Smith said.

Famed author and raconteur Malcolm R. Campbell, who created “The Paramecium Papers” as a prospective new blogging niche said, “The whole thing was a joke and certainly wasn’t intended as material for inclusion in school libraries and classes. I considered doing a Crowdfunding initiative to raise the $1000000000000 needed to fight the censorship plans of ILAS, but I didn’t want to be caught in the middle of the entertainment directors at CNN and FOX when they reported what they thought I meant.”

Malcolm

 

 

Conjurers implement ‘Congress Be Gone’ spell work

Washington, D.C., March 10, 2018, Star-Gazer News Service–Dumbfounded federal agents admitted in the dawn’s early light here today that they have no “anti-spell” technology available to stop the Conjure Women of America’s powerful Congress Be Gone spell.

“Congressmen and women are dropping like flies as the spell flows through the Capitol building like left over green slime from an old horror movie,” said Washington station agent Charles W. Chesnutt.

Implemented when Senators and Representatives begin using greyed out speech balloons that led to squabbling and gridlock instead of action, the spell is forcing lawmakers to put their rails between their legs and leave.

“We wrote down old regrets on parchment and tied them up with devil’s shoestrings and a pinch of goofer dust while burning black candles dressed with fermented sodium pentothal,” said Caroline Dye, matriarch of Conjure Women of America, LLC.

Devil’s Shoestrings – Wikipedia photo

“They’ve got out nuts roasting over an open fire,” said Chesnutt. “Someday soon the halls of government will be cleared out, deadsville, flat empty, lights on but nobody’s home, and I’m betting my pension we’ll be going with them.”

Analysts at the Seals of Solomon Think Tank on Backlick Road said they can’t think of anything to do except draw their paychecks like Congress while doing “absolutely nothing.”

“When it comes to Congress, the tail ain’t even wagging the dog,” said Chief Thinker, Daniel Stormy. “Damn town has turned into a giant hoax-a-thon.”

“Congress has turned into a pack of dogs that won’t hunt,” Dye told reporters at her Chillum, Maryland moonshine still. “Once they pack it up, we’ll let the good Lord sort things out.

-30-

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter.

I’m finding satire harder to write these days

“We’re not a respectable network. We’re a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.” – “Network.” 1976

I’ve been writing satirical news stories since the Nixon administration, poking fun at government stupidities that seemed so inane that the public should have run for the hills, escaped over the border into Canada, or gone flat nuts.

My wife and I watched “Network” a few nights ago. We don’t think it works now as well as it did when was released because in our view, all of the networks are whorehouse networks. That is to say, they all seem biased for or against President Trump.

I introduced my old-style reporter character Jock Stewart in my in 2011 in Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire after using the character in blogs as my alter-ego for poking fun at the major political parties for years.  “He” has appeared on this and other blogs since then as well as in several Kindle books of short stories.

The problem seems to be this: everything I read in the national news already seems to be satire. At some point, Peter Sellers and/or Oscar Wilde took over the world and everything has gone crazy. Since both of them are dead, you can see that the problem must be tangled up with karma and reincarnation.

The challenge for those of us who enjoy writing satire is this: People don’t think it’s funny because they think it’s true.

The Howard Beale character in “Network” said: “So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the Truth, go to God! Go to your gurus.” If the movie were made today, Beale would include the Internet.

Yes, I know, “Saturday Night Live” and “The Onion” are still out there. But when I see them, they look like the real news, the stuff we’ve been told is fake news. Gosh, when real journalism is in the toilet, satirists have no place to go. In order to save satire, we first have to return journalism to the world of objectivity. Easier said than done.

But if we lose satire as an art form, civilization is done for.

Malcolm

 

Congress Imposes Word Limits on Members

Washington, D.C. January 19, 2018, Star-Gazer News Service–Angry about the looming government shutdown, Congress passed a wordy new law that imposed strict limits on the number of words Representatives and Senators are allowed to use each year.

Called the “Sit Down and Shut the Hell Up Law” by supporters, the bill restricts all members of Congress to 10,000 words per year, with 5,000-word bonuses for each co-sponsored bill that actually becomes a law instead of getting “bogged down in squabbling.”

“This is a results-oriented law,” said Senator John Doe (Whig-Florida), “because it forces people who are not popes to stop pontificating at taxpayer expense.”

According to informed sources, Congress passed the legislation in a snit over years of gridlock and now they’re stuck with it.

“Most Senators are playing a ‘mum’s the word’ game with reporters because the new law was unclear about which words count and which don’t count in the annual tallies,” said John Doe’s chief of staff Sally Doe since her words are not limited by the law.

A whitepaper released by Acme, a Washington, D. C. think tank that emerged after ten years of thoughtlessness, said that a longitudinal study of lawmakers’ words and deeds showed that most Senators and Representatives “obfuscated the issues by talking out of both sides of their mouths at the same time.”

“The general public is paying high salaries with lavish benefits packages to these clowns (AKA Senators and Representatives) to help govern the nation, not to talk about governing the nation,” said Acme CEO Bill Smith. “We will have a safer, more-effectively managed country by issuing sticks and stones to lawmakers rather than providing a forum for endless ‘pick a little, talk a little’ debate.”

Word-counts will be posted daily in the Congressional Record, including the sources of the words, that is, speeches on the floor, committee debates, quotes given to reporters, leaks of all kinds, and notes scribbled on bar napkins.

Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter