Special Investigative Reporter: it will make you happier during these blue times

A message from your sponsor (AKA, me)

On sale for 99 cents:

This novel is just what you need to get through these difficult times. Why? It’s about an old-style reporter who’s not afraid to say what he thinks even though a lot of what he thinks isn’t politically correct.

From the publisher: 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.

I like this novel because the main character, Jock Steward, says what I would say if I could get away with it. Let’s just say its a comedy with a bite.

Malcolm

Conjure Woman’s Cat is also on sale on Kindle for 99 cents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents Can Put Librarians in Jail if Parents Don’t Like a Library’s Books

Jefferson City, Missouri, March 3, 2020, Star-Gazer News Service–The Missouri House announced here today that when a bill proposing Gestapo-style Parental Advisory Committees is passed and signed into law, your favorite librarian may end up in the slammer.

House Representatives Jack and Monique (not their real names) admit that while it “takes a lot of arrogance to tell other people what they can and cannot read, such people can’t help themselves.”

According to informed spokespersons, the parental committees will be composed of adults who swear on a stack of comic books that “I don’t know anything about books, but I know what I don’t like.”

Dixon Ticonderoga, president of the Broken Pencil Think Tank, told reporters that studies show that teens read banned books sooner than other books.

“The bottom line is this: Banning books ensures that the age groups you don’t want to read the book will read then in greater numbers than they would if you just shut the hell up,” he said.

Librarians–who asked not to be named in print–noted that a “Missouri State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL) conducted in 2003, 35% of Missouri adults have prose literacy skills at or below the basic skill level. In addition, 26% of Missouri adults are at or below the basic skills level in document literacy and 49% are at or below the basic skill level in quantitative literacy.”

Jack and Monique admit that the SAAL assessment shows that the parental committees will be “an example of the blind leading the stupid, and that’s what democracy is all about.”

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

Does your best paragraph belong in your book?

Consider this paragraph from a well-known novel:

“It rained for eight days without taking a breath. No dank December drizzle this, but rain with attitude. The rogue progeny of some sweet-named Caribbean hurricane had come north, liked it and stayed. Rivers in the Midwest burst their banks and the TV news was awash with images of people crouched on rooftops and the bloated bodies of cattle twirling like abandoned airbeds in swimming-pool fields. In Missouri a family of five drowned in their car while waiting in line at McDonald’s and the President flew in and declared it a disaster, as some on the rooftops had already guessed.”

Do you recognize the passage? If so, you have a good memory. If not, it’s because it’s not usually one of those excerpts that reviewers and sites like GoodReads quote from the novel.

I noticed this paragraph recently because I’m re-reading the book. I smiled as I read it because it’s the kind of thing I would write for a satirical novel or blog post. Bits and pieces of it could even fit in a comedian’s stand-up comedy routine. For satire and/or dark humor, the paragraph is slick, well-written, and filled with sadistic puns and groaner double entendres.

However, the paragraph appears in a book listed as a psychological thriller that focuses on love, loss, family, and coming to grips with massive change. That being the case, I think the author should have cut this graph from the novel and saved it for another book because outside of comedy or satire, this is over the top:

  • taking a breath
  • rain with attitude
  • liked it and stayed
  • news was awash with images
  • abandoned airbeds
  • And then we end with the family drowning in a line at McDonald’s followed by the President declaring it (the flood or the McDonalds?) a disaster area

The passage gets “worse and worse” the farther it goes and becomes really dark with the Missouri family/disaster area juxtapositioning.

I believe most critics and writing professors would classify all this as “too much” in a mainstream novel. In context, the passage seems out of place at the beginning of a subsection in which a young girl is in a coma while her parents wonder if she’ll survive. Perhaps the novelist saw this as a transitional, “adding insult-to-injury” kind of paragraph. Or maybe he liked the contrast between the slick weather description and the horror of the girl supported by machines, tubes, and sensors.

In general, what do you think?

Does your opinion change one way or the other when I tell you this excerpt came from The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans?

Writers are advised to kill their darlings. I wish Evans had pulled the trigger or put these words into a drawer for later use.

Malcolm

My eight novels and numerous short stories fit into the genres of contemporary fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, and satire. Other than the Special Investigative Reporter, my storytelling focuses on magic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman ticked off at friends who won’t buy her a new washing machine

Junction City, TX, January 18, 2020, Star-Gazer News Service–Joyce Carlton admits she made a mistake when she sought help from her neighbors when she needed a Maytag 6.0 CU. PT. extra-large capacity top load agitator washing machine for $1,399.

“I got mixed up and told all my friends I was starting a crow funding event to raise the money and needed to know how to do it because I’m not Internet savvy,” Carlton said. “The response was tepid, presumably because a lot of people don’t like crows.”

According to Carlton’s husband, Bill, the 12-year-old kid, “what’s his face,” next door took pity on her and not only told her the correct term was “crowdfunding,” but showed her how to set up the event and announce it via e-mail and Facebook.

“Joyce said, ‘Don’t tell anybody this, honey, but I feel like a real ninny having all my Facebook friends thinking I was raising money to support crows,'” Bill Carlton told reporters after the house was covered with instructive graffiti such as, “Need a washing machine, get a job” and “How many men are you doing laundry for, slut?”

Carlton’s next-door neighbor Wanda James said that she had a heart-to-heart talk with Joyce over three cups of badly made coffee in Joyce’s kitchen.

“I explained that crowdfunding is generally intended as a way to raise money for a favorite charity or for a truly needy family that needs help,” said James. “She told me she was truly needy because she was struggling with an ancient washing machine without all the bells and whistles people need in today’s world.”

Police said they have yet to catch the person or persons who spray-painted graffiti on the white stucco of the Carltons’ house. An informed source, who is not authorized to speak for publication, said that everyone in the neighborhood with an old washing machine is a suspect.

“My daughters sell Girl Scout cookies and Joyce never bought any. My other next-door neighbor’s son sold band candy and Joyce never bought any. The homeowners association held a fundraising drive to help the Sweeneys after their house burnt down, and Joyce and Bill couldn’t spare a dime,” James said.

Joyce and Bill Carlton acknowledged that they were both cheapskates when it came to helping others, but thought that their beautifully appointed lawn–compliments of Hanson’s Lawn Care Service–would show the community that they were entitled to more respect.

“I guess we’re going to be chipping into to every clown who rings our doorbell whining for money for one dirtbag cause or another,” Bill Carlton said.

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

Excerpt: ‘LOCAL AUTHOR APOLOGIZES FOR MAKING VIXEN IN NOVEL TOO MUCH LIKE NEIGHBORHOOD VIXEN’

Here’s a brief excerpt from Special Investigative Reporter:

“When he got to the office, the clerk at the information desk told him Marcus wanted him to cover the Cane Molasses press conference over at the Main Street Book Emporium. He (Jock) would know that already if he bothered to answer his phone. Cash had, apparently, left for the day when a police officer located the pickup truck at his house. (The receptionist said she didn’t know whose house she was talking about.)

“After the press conference, he went home and slapped together a news story while waiting for a goat cheese and anchovy pizza to arrive:

 

LOCAL AUTHOR APOLOGIZES FOR MAKING VIXEN IN NOVEL TOO MUCH LIKE NEIGHBORHOOD VIXEN

Cane Molasses apologized at a hastily called press conference here this afternoon to “any and all women” who believe they are or might be the Judy Miracle character in his prize-winning 2008 novel Miracle on 35th Street.

Molasses called the press conference and book signing at the Main Street Book Emporium after an unidentified woman accosted him at his home this morning and accused him of basing the Miracle character on secrets she told him when they stopped for drinks on the way home from an AA meeting.

“I’m involved with dozens of women a year for research purposes,” said Molasses, “and all of them are well compensated. Miracle is a composite character based on Carl Jung’s reformed hooker archetype which is extensively described in his collected works.”

Molasses told the crowd of some 500 adoring fans and one heckler that Miracle is a beautiful fictional character who sees the light just in time to be buried in a high-brow cemetery on 35th Street. While many of his fans purportedly model their lives on Miracle’s story, it was not his intent to suggest Miracle is either every woman or any specific woman.

According to Police Sergeant Wayne Bismarck, nobody was seen leaving the Kroger Store on Edwards Street wearing a sack over their head “any time in recent memory.”

-30-

 

As he finished the story, the pizzeria called and apologized for not sending out the pizza he wanted. Apparently, everyone who tried to make such a thing got sick. He thanked them for their trouble, canceled the order, and ate two diet TV dinners with a glass or two (he lost count after two) of Cabernet.

It was the kind of wine a restaurant like the Purple Platter bought in 55-gallon drums, then used for filling bottles with an “estate bottled” Purple Platter label.

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

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

 

 

 

This and that, including a cover reveal

  1. When out-of-town people threaten to stop by for a visit, we clean up the house. I just spent an hour cleaning the hall bathroom. Now, it smells like Clorox, Formula 409, Windex, and Lysol. If all that doesn’t give out an inviting aura of cleanliness, I don’t know what does.
  2.  One of the guests, and I won’t mention her name, drinks some kind of fru-fru white wine that can only be purchased in this area at Publix. Frankly, I think the stuff tastes like Kool-aid. But, I drove a hundred miles to the Publix to make sure we have the stuff in stock.
  3. My publisher and I are waiting for the printer’s proof copy of the paperback for Lena so we can figure out when the release date will be. Lena is the third novel in the Florida Folk Magic Series. The artist who did the covers for the first two books wasn’t available for this one. So, we’re quite pleased that our new artist was able to capture the look and feel of the series.
  4. We have fun watching the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are” that involves well-known people tracking down their ancestors. The TV show plus their fame gets these people access to archivists and historians around the world, and that makes us a bit jealous. What’s amusing is that the genealogist always starts the person out with a search on Ancestry.com, something the person seemingly could have done at home before they came on the show. That part ain’t that difficult.
  5. My last post on this blog taught me one thing. Nobody wants to read about James Joyce, much less Finnegans Wake. Okay, I guess I won’t be talking about that any more. <g>
  6. Anyone else here reading Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series about a wizard who runs a big city detective agency? In a way, once you’ve read one, you’ve read all of them. Nonetheless, they’re addictive: thrills, chills, gore, and humor.
  7. I look forward to the day when real-life politics stops sounding like satire. Jock Stewart, my alter-ego who satirizes politics from time to time on this blog has nothing to write about because “he” can’t come up with anything more outlandish than what the two major parties are saying and doing.

On that note, I think I’ll go back to cleaning up the house.

Malcolm

‘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

 

 

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

 

Magazines That Just Couldn’t Cut It

For every successful magazine, hundreds fail either because they’re flat stupid, were published before their time, or were written and edited by nuts. Here are my memories of those that didn’t make the grade.

  • Jupiter Images graphic

    Bad House Keeping – Written by trailer trash for trailer trash, but went off the rails when it also tried to appeal to artists, writers and other dreamers who didn’t have time to keep house.

  • Bizarre – Featured photographs taken by readers while they were drunk about stuff that seemed funny at the time but, as it turned out, was trivial and boring later on.
  • Croquet Digest: Readers were never sure whether this magazine was about the game or fried rolls of bread and meat. Those who thought it was about croquettes unsubscribed then many of those who thought the magazine was about croquet claimed to be using croquettes instead of balls because what else were they good for?
  • Hades Home Journal: Editors thought this take-off on “Ladies Home Journal” would document what life was like for most housewives, that is to say, life in a hell of dirty diapers, burnt food, endless dust, and unfaithful husbands. Even those who sent in true stories hated the magazine because they wanted to pretend life in housewife hell didn’t exist.
  • HayBoy: This original spoof of “Playboy” failed because–contrary to marketing predictions–nobody wanted to see cartoons and photographs about scantily clad men working on a farm.  Even the dazzling articles about crop rotation and the center spreads featuring John Deere, Ford, Massey Fergusson, Case, and Farmall tractors couldn’t save the magazine.
  • Homewrecker: Based on high divorce rates, publishing moguls decided there was probably a huge audience of wanton women who were being neglected by mainstream media. This publication pioneered in the publication of ground-breaking techniques for stealing a man away from goody-two-shoes women who were reading “Good Housekeeping” and “House Beautiful.” Basically, the church got ticked off at this magazine and said everyone associated with it was going to hell, so that pretty much scared advertisers and readers away.
  • McBalls: This magazine, aimed at the husbands of women who lived their lives by the gospel of “McCalls,” focused on dangerous methods of barbecuing, high-energy and potentially fatal sports, living lives based on the “hey, honey, watch this” philosophy, and featured centerfolds of stuff that blew up or caught on fire. The magazine had a spectacular first year, but after that it lost readers when most of them died.
  • Photoclay – A bunch of potters in a collective run by visionary manufacturers of wheels, kilns, and other craft supplies, saw the success of “Photoplay” and thought, “why not clay?” As it turned out, nobody much cared about pictures of clay or even the gory pictures of stuff that blew up in the kilns.
  • Popular Seance – This magazine was the best of the best during the spiritualism craze, featuring articles by spirits such as Patience Worth, Ouija Board techniques, and how to contact uncle Danny in the afterworld to find out where the hid all his gold. Then a horde of spoilsports came along and said spiritualism was mostly frauds taking people’s money. Subscribers thought that was a real downer and left the magazine to become Tarot card readers.
  • Everyone can’t produce a successful magazine.

    Popular Quantum Mechanics: When the magazine came out, nobody knew squat about quantum physics, so naturally they thought everything in the magazine was about a bunch of frauds taking people’s money.  How, people asked, could there be multiple universes when one was bad enough? How could a butterfly flapping its wings in Tallahassee, Florida, cause a rain form in Walla Walla, Washington? The magazine was a true gem that failed before people were ready for it.

  • La Vie Fille de la Joie: Hookers, according to the magazine’s cover blurb, brought an infinite amount of joy to men who “weren’t getting any at home.” The photographs and articles, according to even the most Victorian critics, were tastefully done and “made calling a call girl seem like a religious experience.” As had happened before with people just having a bit of fun, the church got ticked off at this magazine and said everyone sleeping with daughters of joy was going to hell. This idea bothered people and they canceled their subscriptions even though they continued to find love with unknown ladies leaning against lamp posts.
  • New Porker: This brave magazine was the champion of pigs and could tell you how to bring home the best bacon, carve a pork roast, and cook center-cut pork chops with out drying them out. The trouble was, most people think pigs are  gross, stupid, and filthy and balked at the idea of leaning anything more about them. Even the hog-calling “Sooie Short Stories” series couldn’t save the magazine.
  • Saturday Evening Fencepost: The trouble began when the magazine couldn’t entice Norman Rockwell to do their covers art featuring farmers, farmers’ wives, and hired hands sitting on fence posts creating sonnets about barbed wire, gates, barns, and silos. Somehow, a nasty campaign by other magazines convinced readers that this magazine was for people who were “dumb as a post.” Even those who knew they were dumb as a post didn’t want to be told they were dumb as a post.
  • Silver Scream: Since “Silver Screen” was a popular magazine, why not focus on the dark site of making movies, starting out with some of the best screams anyone ever heard in a feature film? As it turned out, readers didn’t want to focus on the shower scene in “Psycho” as much as editors thought, so the magazine went under with a whimper a few years after it began.
  • The Smart Seat: This magazine, a jibe at the popular “Smart Set,” featured seats, mainly toilet seats, but occasionally various hot seats and other places people found themselves sitting. The magazine was funny at first and then it wasn’t, some say because a story called “Toilet Seats I’ve Known and Loved” grossed people out. Then, too, legislatures claimed that using the word “ass” in a periodical made the whole thing obscene and got the copies removed from the shelves.
  • If you can’t be Vogue, be Vague.

    The UnAmerican Girl: With “American Girl” all the rage in those days, girls who weren’t American weren’t getting any news coverage. Unfortunately, the name of the magazine gave readers the impression that the magazine was about commies and other nefarious women who were out to take away America’s freedoms. Actually, that was probably true, though it was never proven. Even though many men thought dating an unAmerican girl was sexy, the FBI thought it wasn’t, and that pretty much killed the magazine.

  • Vague: The publisher wanted to compete with “Vogue,” but never figured out how to do it. The result was a wishy-washy magazine that wasn’t about anything other than people who had no idea what they were doing. It was not surprise that those people didn’t have any money, consequently they could afford subscriptions or buy anything from the magazine’s advertisers. The whole thing was so nebulous that nobody ever knew when there the magazine was sold, what it was about, or when it went out of business.