USPS to cut mail delivery times to be more competitive

Washington, D. C., Star-Gazer News Service, March 23, 2021–The postmaster general announced here today that the post office plans to become more competitive with alternative services by cutting office hours and taking longer to deliver the mail.

Informed spokesmen said that the proposed new slogan for the U.S. Postal Service will be: “When it absolutely doesn’t have to get there at all.”

According to Program Manager Bob Smith, “The expensive new processing equipment and other advanced technology aren’t expected to improve first-class mail or package delivery times as much as they will impress school children and others taking tours of postal facilities.

In a white paper released via PRNEWSWIRE, the watchdog group Just Waiting for the Mail said that the planned new uniforms will improve the “cuteness factor” for those thinking about making the USPS a number one career choice. The uniforms’ specifications include upgraded spud guns for controlling dogs, and possibly Democrats, that hassle delivery personnel.

Smith smiled when he said, “We are proud to embrace the term ‘snail mail,’ and promise to do our best to live up to that expectation of our services.”

A new mail slot in re-designed post offices will be named “Feeling Lucky.” Most mail inserted through that slot will fall into a trashcan while a “modest number” will be sent via priority mail even though such mail is no longer a priority.

Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

New Title: ‘Parables Ironic and Grotesque’

Oblique Voices Press of Portland, Oregon has released a selection of dark satire stories by author and George Fox University Professor Emeritus Douglas G. Campbell, Parables Ironic and Grotesque

From the Publisher

Irony reigns in these biting and ofttimes darkly humorous tales. Campbell invites us to ponder upon the common follies of his fellow man, highlighting such weaknesses as pride, selfishness, fear, and greed, and pointing out the further foolishness of ignoring such shortcomings. Allegorical in nature, this body of work challenges the reader to a closer look into their own frailties and deficiencies and invites him to a healthy dose of quiet introspection.

From the Foreword by Jay Beaman, PhD

The irony of this artifact, this book, is the irony of how we communicate with each other in post-speak society. In the cyber-world, I can send off a message, and a few seconds later someone else speaks back to me or at me with a tweet, but usually there is a time interval between parts of the same message. Alexander Graham Bell’s first message on the telephone, “Mr. Watson –come here- I want to see you,” was instantaneous and continuous. Cyber-communication is discontinuous, disjunctive, and in that sense ironic. Here we are just now getting around to reading a book by Doug Campbell, written when he was a great speaker, when his voice was in the moment, some years ago before his stroke. Given his current difficulty in saying words, it is ironic to read such prescient work written about our society. I hope to have lunch with Doug again in days, and our conversation will be halting, frustrating, even primitive. But here I read him with such thoughtful and deft clarity. Doug loves puns, like his painting of a frog workshop, titled “toad’s tools.” This book is filled with puns. I hope Doug will forgive me for my pun, quite in bad taste, but written with deepest empathy, I weep as I write it, that this book reads like “a stroke of genius.”

I won’t commit the faux pax of reviewing my brother’s book, though I have to say, I love puns, satire, and irony and find this collection (in those terms) a comforting read.

Malcolm

 

Need Help Christmas Shopping

If you have put off your Christmas shopping until the last minute, here are a few ideas from your host (AKA, me) for your quality friends. Books, of course, because books are what I do.

Special Investigative Reporter

This book can be classified as a sarcastic, satirical humorous mystery. It’s a great book for people who like to laugh and who also happen to distrust authority–as my main character Jock Stewart does.  And as I do. Jock is probably my favorite protagonist because he reminds me of me, the kind of guy who’s likely to say anything to anybody, especially people who are really full of themselves.

Fate’s Arrows

This is my most recent novel, the fourth in my Florida Folk Magic Series which began with Conjure Woman’s Cat. I’m partial to the series because it’s set where I grew up, with places and people I knew.

Continue reading “Need Help Christmas Shopping”

Witless People Being Taken Away, ha ha

Washington, D.C. (Star Gazer News) – The U. S. Marshals Service announced here today the formation of the Witless Protection Program (WPP) to be run in tandem with the Witness Security Program (WITSEC) that was established in 1970. The new program will protect stupid people from themselves and will be administered under the FISA court system for the betterment of all humankind.

“If the clueless person in your apartment building suddenly disappears,” said Marshal Dillon, “it means a secret court has decided that happens to him/her is best kept secret.”

When several reporters asked if people can nominate witless folks who haven’t disappeared, Dillon said, “Sure, in fact, we encourage it.”

According to informed sources, the U.S. postoffice is working with WPP to allow witless nominations to be placed into USPS “Santa Mailboxes” where–the FEDS promise–there is “no video surveillance whatsoever ever.”

WPP program director Chester Goode told reporters that witlessness is a disease that requires compassionate treatment modalities designed to “fix these people up good as new.”

When asked what “good as new” actually meant, Goode said that it meant whatever the federal government wants it to mean when national security protocols are considered.

“We’ve got more protocols than you can shake a stick at,” Dillon added. “If you step on a sidewalk crack and break your mother’s back, you’re gonna be taken off the sidewalk by Homeland Security Agents. Ditto for a mother punching another mother in the nose while hanging out clothes.”

According to an ACLU spokesperson, the new program is as unconstitutional as cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels. 

“The ACLU’s got it bad and that ain’t good,” said Director Goode. 

–Story Filed by Special Investigative Reporter, Jock Stewart

 

Police Bulletin Excerpts from ‘Special Investigative Reporter’

Jock Stewart, a reporter in the small town of Junction City, logs on to the police department website daily to keep up with the bulletins, any one of which might lead him to an exciting front-page story.

Excerpt 1

  • 07:30 – Marcus Cash reports his Black 2008 GMC Sierra Denali pickup truck was stolen or borrowed from the loading dock behind Elroy’s Wide Screen shop while Cash was joking with police across the street at the Krispy Kreme.
  • 08:45 – Officer Parker House is resting as comfortably as possible at Lord Have Mercy Hospital after shooting off his left nut while polishing his weapon while watching a gun safety video in the squad room.
  • 09:50 – Councilman Calvin Knox was injured in a purported two-car accident on County Road 3724 when a “sports car of some kind” ran his vintage Packard off the road into a pasture on the Staunton farm. Knox
    reported he was injured when he slipped on a fresh meadow muffin and wrenched his knee.
  • 10:30 – Clarification of 08:45 item. House’s “left nut” is to be interpreted as his remaining nut prior to the incident as opposed to the nut on the left side of his body. After the incident, no nuts were present other than House.
  • 11:15 – Police responded to the home of author Cane Molasses and took an enraged and yet to be identified woman wearing a Kroger sack over her head into custody when she wouldn’t stop hitting the author with her purse. Molasses states that he answered the door, she started screaming at him for making Judy, the beloved but naughty slut in his recent novel just like me.
  • 11:16 – Clarification of 11:15 item. The word “me” is to be interpreted as the enraged woman and not as Officer Betty Powers who types these bulletins.

Excerpt 2

The 11:15 item led to the following news story:

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 prizewinning 2008 novel “Miracle on 35thStreet.”

Molasses called held 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 35thStreet.

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.” 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.

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

 

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