It’s hard wishing people Happy Thanksgiving

We’re being told not to do the things we usually do at Thanksgiving. Don’t travel to see family or ask them to travel to see you. And, if friends and family live close at hand, you can’t have more than X people at the table.

That pretty much spoils the whole thing.

I picture the police sending SWAT teams through neighborhoods on Thanksgiving Day, peeking through dining room windows and counting the cars in the driveway. Since most of these rules were made by governors and mayors who don’t really have the power to issue such regulations, the police probably won’t need a warrant to bust in and arrest everyone at the table when the family gathering is larger than the law allows.

“Drop the turkey, put your hands up, and stand in a line against the wall.”

No doubt, the feast will be confiscated as evidence unless the cops eat it all, and then everyone’s screwed.

At my house, it’s just my wife and me except every other year when my brother and his wife come to visit. We’re in the clear. (I think.) So, we don’t have to hide granny and the baby in the attic while the cops are prowling around.

It occurs to me that the lockdown police might be staking out the grocery stores to see who’s buying more food than their family can lawfully consume. If I bought an 80-pound turkey, there would probably be a SWAT team in my yard on November 26th.

Just as long as they’re not counting toilet paper.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the satirical comedy “Special Investigative Reporter.” One reviewer said the book was an excuse for wine and sex.

Happy Birthday, USA

We’re celebrating July 4, 2020, like a family squabbling at Granny’s birthday party where 50% of the inlaws got a virus, 50% are ripping family heirlooms off the walls, and 50% are trying to burn down the house. That’s 150%, but it’s a large family.

The argument has been more heated than usual this year. Otherwise, Granny’s seen it all. She knows that when everyone sobers up and gets their emotions and anger under control–to the extent that’s possible–the family will clean up the mess. She hopes folks will forgive each other and remember the love they feel for each other during easy times, though that’s a stretch.

As she looks at her trampled birthday cake, Granny’s amazed that the same people who made this mess have come together in years past to do amazing things even though none of them is perfect. The same cousins who fought Granddad about over the value of the Grange and badmouthed him for not being perfect have all cheated on their spouses, their taxes, and Lord only knows what else. It would be a hoot if it weren’t so sad.

She recalls the times when they’ve laughed about their inconsistencies and reckons they’ll laugh again, though probably not soon. Granny doesn’t remember who first said it, but she likes the saying that “The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.” Maybe that’s why it survives in spite of the squabbling.

That’s how I see our country. Ultimately, I think its greatest weaknesses will evolve into its greatest strengths and pure love for each other will be unconditional.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

A bunch of stuff for Sunday

  • We’re all looking for ways to cope with pandemic anxiety. You may find this free workbook from the Jung Center to be of help.
  • Several things have helped me cope. First, I don’t have to leave the house often. Also, I have chores (like mowing the yard) and enjoyable work (a new novel in progress). As you get older, you’ll discover that even with a riding mower, cutting the grass is a multi-day project. One day to cut it and several days to recover from all the aches and pains that arise from riding over a fairly rough yard that was part of a farm several years ago.
  • I’m re-reading Jeff Shaara’s historical novel A Chain of Thunder about Grant and Sherman’s siege of Vicksburg. Vicksburg is often overlooked by those who study the Civil War because the battle ended one day (July 4, 1863) after the Battle of Gettysburg (July 3, 1863). Both were important Union victories, but Vicksburg was far away in what was in those days called “The West” and Gettysburg was close at hand.
  • I know all of you have been waiting with bated breath for news about the pot roast I mentioned recently in my slow cooker post. It came out great. We’ll finish it at supper tonight: that means I’m not spending the afternoon in a hot kitchen. My wife grilled some asparagus for a tasty side dish.
  • With most of our regular TV shows done for the season, we have been turning once again to old movies. In addition to Netflix, we find many of them on Turner Classic Movies which is part of our basic package on DISH. The Noir Alley films air at midnight on Saturday. (We archive them to view later.) Many of TCM’s movies are introduced by hosts who provide a little background. I especially like Noir Alley’s Eddie Muller because he provides interesting facts about the movies, directors, stars, and trends before and after the films.
  • A favorite author of mine said she has a new book coming out soon. I can’t tell you who she is or the name of the book because it’s not yet in release and if I mention it here before the publisher announces it, there will be hell to pay. Fresh hell, probably.

–Malcolm

My novel Mountain Song is free on Kindle through the end of the day today.

For those who get too close

Nightbeat Column, by Jock Stewart, Star-Gazer News Service

In addition to a robber’s red bandana face mask, my grocery store costume includes a carpenter’s utility belt with a sign in 18-point Bodoni Bold type that says For Those Who Get Too Close.

COVID-19 oriented, my utilities do not include a hammer, screwdriver, vise grips, pliers, tape measure or T-square because handy as those tools are, they don’t scare huggers, hand shakers, coughers, and sneezers away.

Instead, I have these very practical items:

  • Wikipedia Photo

    TASER: For lone family members at the far end of the aisle who start running toward me sh0uting, “Jock, give me some sugar,” in the belief that being close at home (in some cases) means being close in the store is okay.

  • WASP Spray: Since this comes in long-range spray cans, it keeps White Anglo-Saxon Protestants on their side of the store without having to accept any tracts or lists of Bible verses.
  • Pepper Spray: Keeps hookers from coming up and whispering, “Jock, baby, I need $100 for a roll of toilet paper.”
  • Bowling Ball: If a bevvy of grannies from the neighborhood runs toward me for help carrying their Polident, Fig Newtons, and snuff back home, this can be rolled down the aisle for an easy strike. (I have two balls in case I come up with a dreaded 7-10 split on the first roll.)
  • Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special Revolver: Keeps the cashiers on their side of the new sneeze screens.
  • Emergency Poster: Printed in 72-Point Bodoni Bold type, this sign says: I ALREADY GOT IT: HOW ABOUT YOU.

Shop only for essentials, be safe, and mainstain social distancing (or else).

“Nightbeat” appears on the Junction City Star-Gazer editorial page as needed

John Hart delays release of new novel ‘The Unwilling’

John Hart announced on Facebook yesterday that The Unwilling, originally scheduled for release in this June, will be delayed until February of next year. Many fans, including me, are disappointed by this news since we had been looking forward to some wonderful summer reading material.

Unlike many of us who promote our books primarily online with an occasional bricks-and-mortar reading and signing, Hart schedules a book tour for each of his books. The pandemic makes tours impossible now.

Calling the planned book tour for The Unwilling collateral damage to coronavirus, he said, “This was not an easy decision for any of us, but book tour is a huge part of my life – that includes meeting fans and booksellers, raising funds for important charities and doing what I can to support all of the stores that writers and readers value so highly (talk about an essential business!). It is also a necessary part of my life. Writing novels is such a lonesome, isolating affair that I have long considered tour as a needed reinsertion into the human race, a once-in-a-while reminder that life exists beyond the farm and keyboard, the family and close friends.”

His novels are so intense, I can understand his need to get out into the real world every time one is finished and ready for release. We’ll be waiting, Mr. Hart.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

StayHomeWriMo Rallies Writers 

Writers around the globe are gathering—virtually—to raise their spirits and keep creating through an initiative called StayHomeWriMo. Sponsored by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the organizers of the annual November write-a-thon in which authors pen a novel draft in a month, StayHomeWriMo invites writers to find comfort in their creativity and stay inside while the battle with COVID-19 continues.

Source: StayHomeWriMo Rallies Writers | Poets & Writers

What a great idea. One component of a writer’s well being is to write.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s short story collection, Widely Scattered Ghosts, is free on Smashwords during the company’s “give back” sale.

What if each furloughed employee had been given a roll of toilet paper?

Other than panic buying and hoarding, families are probably buying more toilet paper than usual because they’re confined to their homes. It stands to reason that 8-5 workers used toilet paper at the office during the day that they must now buy at the grocery store. Same goes for the kids who normally would have used school-supplied toilet paper for most of the day.

Now, all that toilet paper is sitting in storerooms at offices and cleaning services where nobody can access it. But what if each furloughed employee had been given a roll or two on the way out the door?

Okay, those rolls wouldn’t last long, but when you add them all up, they lead to a lot of toilet paper purchases at stores that normally wouldn’t have happened. One thing leads to another. Once the toilet paper gets sparse on store shelves, people naturally buy more of it even if they aren’t trying to hoard a six-month supply.

Maybe as a show of good faith, offices and schools should allow workers and students to stop by for a free roll or two to ease the strain on all of us.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s short story collection, Widely Scattered Ghosts, is free on Smashwords during the company’s “give back” sale.

Now folks can write but they aren’t (hmm)

But are you writing? I noted several remarks online where people are saying they are too worried and frantic to sit and write. They’re anchored to 24-hour news, waiting for the latest body count and what’s happening next.

So. . . let me get this straight. . . when things are busy and normal, you don’t have time to write. Then things are abnormal and locking you at home, you can’t make yourself write.  – Hope Clark

Wikipedia Graphic

It’s really an understatement to say that COVD-19 has disrupted a lot of things. We’re all curious about potential lockdowns and potential vaccines. But sitting in front of a 24-hour news channel watching for updates not only seems like a waste of time, but is the kind of behavior that probably creates more hysteria than what the nation is already coping with.

Frankly, I’m a little tired of people asking why we didn’t have 100000000 testing kits (much less a cure) in stock for a disease nobody knew anything about prior to December. I guess people are watching too many medical dramas on TV and are used to health issues that are solved within an hour.

I agree with Hope Clark, assuming that lockdowns aren’t making us broke or sticking us in long lines to buy toilet paper, we can use our self-quarantines and social distancing to get some other stuff done: tidy up the garden, clean out the garage, finish that novel.

–Malcolm

Many of Thomas-Jacob Publishing’s Kindle editions are on sale throughout March for 99₵. The sale includes two of my novels, “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Special Investigative Reporter.”

 

Protect your writing time

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you. ~Zadie Smith

Perhaps this will seem like a surprising time to talk about protecting one’s writing time. We’re all facing the possibility of empty store shelves, prospective quarantines, disruptions of travel plans–not to mention getting COVID-19.

Many of those who write say it’s as important as breathing and that they can’t live without it. I’ve written before about the challenges the stay-at-home writing spouse has with protecting his/her time. If that time is not bringing income into the household, then the 8-5 spouse/partner who is supporting the family might assume the writing is a hobby and can be disrupted as need be with calls to pick up something at the store, prepare dinner for the boss with little notice, keep the house clean, and do all the shopping.

Now, as the U.S. has raised the threat level of the virus from “What, me worry?” to “Find out who’s to blame,” conserving time to write will probably become more difficult; if you were around during the 1970s gasoline shortage, then you know that thousands of people spent a good portion of each week trying to find a service station with any gasoline and, once they did, there might have been a wait of an hour or more in a long line.

If this happens again with such essentials as toilet paper and food, then trips to the grocery store might take many hours per week. Obviously, the family comes first, whether it’s food or safety. The 8-5 working spouse might get furloughed if they work for a company whose product or service takes a huge hit from the emergency.

Yet, I encourage you to write and/or do the online research or library research your stories need because this is what defines you as a person whether it’s bringing in money or not. Yes, I know it’s difficult seeing multiple hours of daily writing time collapse down to an hour or 30 minutes. Perhaps your approach shifts gears from poetry or a period novel to something like “Pandemic, a Diary.”

Even stolen moments of time can be enough to keep you breathing and give you a reason to hope that when the pandemic’s over, you’ll be a fulltime storyteller again.

Malcolm

 

The virus may impact my travel plans – yours, too?

Pandemic.

Wikipedia photo

How will that impact each of us? It’s hard to gripe about it when people are dying and others’ lives are being disrupted.

Italy is closed. Travel from Europe to the U.S. is restricted. Many of us wonder how long it will be before travel around the U. S. will be impossible.

Due to my cancer problems last year, I didn’t see my daughter and granddaughters in Maryland. We’d planned to visit them in April and take a few cool side trips while we were there. So far, none of our flights has been cancelled.

But, we wonder. We miss the granddaughters. We dislike going long periods of time without seeing them because their lives move so fast it’s easy for us to get out of the loop and never get back in. They grow up so fast that a year away from them is hard to recover.

So, we worry. My brother and his wife had plans to see Australia. Those fell through when the place burnt down. Now they have plans for a river trip in Europe, but as borders close, that might not happen.

It’s not that we’re worried about getting COVD-19, though that could happen. We’re more concerned about mandatory quantities and travel restrictions.

Do you face similar problems or is it more a matter of whether the toilet paper runs out?

Malcolm