The Paramecium Papers

Blog feedback from a feral study group in Dubuque indicates that my focus here on the Round Table has been insanely misguided for years. Or, perhaps it’s an insane study group and my posts have been too feral for everyday people.

Study group spokesperson Vixen Galore said, “Malcolm–I hope you don’t mind if I use your first name–you need a niche. You’re all over God’s multicolored earth here with your posts. After all, you’re writing this blog in hopes of attracting readers to your books, right?”

“Sort of, Vix, but I don’t have a niche because I don’t know who those prospective readers are.”

“You better find out. But first, find something fresh and new and write ground breaking posts about it day after bloody day until the cows come home. My feral advice is paramecia. You’ll have people kicking in your front door in nothing flat.”

Suddenly, perhaps because I’ve been watching tennis matches at Indian wells while drinking moonshine, that advice makes sense. If things go well, I might even change the name of the blog to The Paramecium Papers.

What is a Paramecium?

For those of you who haven’t thought about these cute little critters since your grade school biology class, here’s the definition from Wikipedia: “Paramecium (also Paramoecium) (/ˌpærəˈmʃəm, –ˈmʃiəm, –ˈmsiəm/ parr-ə-MEE-sh(ee-)əmparr-ə-MEE-see-əm) is a genus of unicellular ciliates, commonly studied as a representative of the ciliate group. Paramecia are widespread in freshwaterbrackish, and marine environments and are often very abundant in stagnant basins and ponds. Because some species are readily cultivated and easily induced to conjugate and divide, it has been widely used in classrooms and laboratories to study biological processesIts usefulness as a model organism has caused one ciliate researcher to characterize it as the “white rat” of the phylum Ciliophora.

Since there a billions of these suckers in water, chances are there are millions of them inside you. For all we know, there may even be more of them in your favorite bottled water than the microscopic chips of plastic that today’s news told us about.

The downside is this: we don’t really know what they want (the paramecia hordes, not the pieces of plastic). That being the case, my mission here–my new niche–will be to teach you how to develop your psychic powers so that you can communicate with the so-called white rats of the Ciliophora phylum. So far, it appears that they want most of us to stay more hydrated than we do and to stop killing them by boiling our water or adding chemicals to it.

The other downside is that early results are showing that these tiny specks of life are actually more intelligent than some humans. It’s a group mind kind of thing: they think like the BORG in Star Trek, a true collective where the rights of the individual (including you) don’t mean squat.

Some people tell us that if the planet gets wiped out by a nuclear war, cockroaches will be the primary survivors. Maybe so. But they have to drink the water, and what that means is that the thoughts roaches think they’re having are coming from paramecia.

The inner child people often speak of is really a BORG-like colony of paramecia. If this doesn’t disturb you, then you’re probably not the true niche-reader for this blog.

Upcoming topics for The Paramecium Papers are:

  1. How to ask a paramecium out on a date.
  2. Understanding the kinds of books paramecia like and what they do to you if your’re not reading those books.
  3. How much beer can you drink without out turning your colony of paramecia into a bunch of sots?
  4. Paramecia speak Russian, so they have been meddling in your decision making longer than Mueller suspects, and so far, he hasn’t subpoenaed any of them. (Of course, his colony might be blinding him to reality.)

So there it is, a niche that will lure readers into my magical, paranormal, and fantasy novels and short stories.

Malcolm, Vix, and Paramecia Colony J38


A beautiful bookstore in Dubuque

I love locally owned independent bookstores. They’re not only great for a city’s economy–as websites like IndieBound will tell you–they are also a reflection of the local culture, people, reading habits and thought.

River Lights Bookstore Photo
When I reached handwritten postcard number 100 in the stack I’m sending out to bookstores telling them about “The Sun Singer,” I was curious about the store getting the postcard. It’s River Lights Bookstore, 2nd Edition on Main Street in Dubuque, Iowa. They have a website and a Facebook page, so it was easy to learn more about the store.

They also have something else that chain stores can’t match: a wonderful historic building. The “Second Edition” in the store’s name comes from the fact that when the original store closed, some of the folks involved created a new store down town.

On June 1st, 2007, the new River Lights Bookstore opened in a beautifully renovated historic downtown building at 1098 Main Street. The wooden floors and tin ceilings of this 1870’s building offer an inviting atmosphere in which to browse or connect with fellow booklovers.

River Lights Bookstore photo
As the former chairman of my town’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), I was happy to see the “adaptive reuse” of the old building. I wish the store would include a note on its site saying what the building originally housed. By the look of it, it could have been a small manufacturing operation. According to Dubuque’s website, the city has an HPC that oversees the historic districts and historic properties. Doing this is also good for the local economy; and, of course, it strengthens a community’s sense of its own past history and architecture.

River Lights looks like what a bookstore ought to look like: a vibrant operation with excited book people in the perfect setting. If I lived in Dubuque–a three-hour drive from Batavia, the small town where my father was born–I would be shopping at this store every week.

I have no idea how many weeks it will take my postcard to travel from northeast Georgia to 1098 Main Street in Dubuque. Probably several weeks. Chances are, the card will be swept into a stack of Baker & Taylor, Ingram and other catalogues where it might sit for another several weeks. Somebody might actually see it, pause, and think, “hmmm.”

“Hmmm” is fine with me, assuming they can read my handwriting which, suffice it to say, was getting a bit sloppy when I reached card #100. Otherwise, I’m glad I looked up the store where the card is headed. For a preservation-minded writer, the website is a real treat, and imagining what it would be like to shop or attend book club meetings in River Lights 2/e is wonderful to imagine.

Each copy sold benefits Glacier National Park!