It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

24

Book Review: Circumstances of Childhood by John W. Howell

Posted by mcm0704 on August 25, 2019 |

Circumstances of Childhood
John Howell
Print Length: 299 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Keewaydin Lane Books (October 1, 2017)
Publication Date: October 1, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B075SKWHCR

BLURB:  When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven, is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal had dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

REVIEW: This is an engaging story of friendship and brotherhood, and I really liked the way the reader meets Greg in the opening pages. We get a strong sense of his disappointment and embarrassment at the downward turn of events in his life. One day on top of the world, the next in a bar trying to remain unrecognized. This is even more of a poignant tale, knowing that parts of it are based on experiences in the author’s life. He had a good friend who played football with him in High School, and the two hoped to be able to play pro ball.

Keith’s character was also deftly presented, and I had to smile at his bumbling attempts to get his ghostly feet under him. Keith is a newly-minted ghost, and it takes a while for him to figure out just how a ghostly creature can move around. And he really wants to stay as close to Greg as he can, especially when things really start to heat up in Greg’s life.

While the story opens with Greg in the bar after his downfall, it quickly goes back to his childhood with his friend, Keith, and goes forward from there. The reader meets the family that takes Greg in after his father died and his mother went off the rails. Greg learns what a close, loving family can be, and that set him up for success instead of failure.

I liked the direct way the story was laid out with simple sentences and a straightforward story line. I’m not fond of stories that meander, taking the reader down extraneous paths, sometimes leaving them there which adds an element of confusion. There was none of that in Circumstances of Childhood, and it makes for a very satisfying read.

 BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  John Howell began writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016.

A stand alone novel, Circumstances of Childhood was published October 1st, 2017.  The Contract is written with Gwen Plano and released June of 2018. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

You can find out more about John by visiting his WEBSITE and AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE * meet him on FACEBOOK  * GOODREADS * LINKED IN * and follow him on TWITTER

Come back on Wednesday when John will be my guest with some advice for new writers. Even us seasoned writers can use a refresher now and then, so I hope you will join us. Until then, be safe, be happy.

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0

Hot Enough For You?

Posted by mcm0704 on August 23, 2019 |

Yoga is supposed to be good for you, but I might have over-stretched the ‘good’ in my yoga class on Wednesday. Had horrible muscle spasms in my back on Thursday and it’s just marginally better today. Thank goodness my friend Slim is always ready with one of his humor columns when I am not able to write.

Slim’s column “Home Country” now has over 4 million readers, and I am always happy to add a few to that number. Today, the guys are talking about the weather. What else is there to talk about when we are all baking in the heat? Grab a glass of cool, refreshing tea and enjoy…

Iced mint tea

“Sanctimonious siphons, it’s hot!” said Dud, sitting at the philosophy counter and turning over his coffee cup for action with a single smooth move.  Dud is a regular at the Mule Barn truck stop’s legendary world dilemma think tank.

“Epithet time again, Dudley?” said Doc.

“Epithets and heat time, Doc. When that heat comes along, the only thing that can really change an attitude is a properly tuned epithet. It’s man’s emotional release valve, but of course you know that, being a doctor and all.”

Dud doctored his coffee and took a sip.

“Right?”

“Oh …” said Doc, “right … of course. We took Epithets 1A and 1B in medical school, naturally. ‘Emotional release valves and their perfection’ they were called. I got an A in Epithetology for the Masses in my third year, too.”

“You’re just putting me on.”

“Maybe.”

“Let’s look for a moment,” chimed in Bert, “at why epithets are so good for the soul.”

“He’s going to wave his arms again,” whispered Doc to Dud.

“I’m afraid so…”

“Yes,” said Bert, “epithets, particularly those where no swearing is involved, are like a frustrated man’s crossword puzzle. They bring out enough cleverness and creativity in a man to pour salve on whatever it is that’s bugging the bejeesus out of him.”

“I know I feel better with salve poured on my bejeesus,” said Doc, nodding.

“First thing I do in the morning, after coffee,” said Dud.

“Well, here comes Steve,” Doc said, as all eyes turned to the cowboy who looked wise, in the way a caffeine-starved owl looks wise. “He’ll pour some salve and sense on this entire situation.

“Mornin’ Steve,” said Dud. “What’s going on?”

“Bilious blasphemers, it’s hot today!” said Steve.

The groaning continued, off and on, through the toast course.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Brought to you by Merrick Pet Care  https://www.merrickpetcare.com/ in Hereford, Texas. “We know it’s not just food in that bowl, it’s love. And that’s why it has to be the best.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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2

Rosemary Poole-Carter Chats With Lenore

Posted by mcm0704 on August 21, 2019 |

For those of us who write, our characters are as real to us as the people next door so it’s perfectly natural for us to have a conversation with them now and then. So today I welcome Rosemary Poole-Carter and her central character, Lenore, as they chat a bit about Rosemary’s book Only Charlotte and Lenore’s role in the story.

I reviewed the book last Sunday, so you can hop over there after reading reading the interview.

RPC: Here we are in New Orleans, circa 1882, in the parlor of Mrs. James—

LJ: Oh, do call me Lenore. A woman who’s had as many last names as I—well, my first suits me best.

RPC: I think of Lenore in Poe’s The Raven.

LJ: As well you might.

RPC: Lenore, I understand that you have outlived three husbands. Any plans to marry again?

LJ: Never say nevermore. After all, I’m just shy of forty, as you may have guessed. But as a widow of means, I enjoy the latitude to pursue other interests.

RPC: Such as?

LJ: First, my charitable work for a women’s shelter. So many women and children in need. Then, my support of the arts—visual, musical, literary, and especially theatrical.

RPC: Busy as you are, you still found time to help your younger brother Gilbert during his recent difficulties. Would you describe the nature of your concern for him?

LJ: Oh, bless his heart. After his troubles in Baltimore, I invited Gilbert to live with me in New Orleans, open a small medical practice, and make a fresh start. Well, he hadn’t been here six months when he fixed his affections on a married woman—the captivating Charlotte. Off he went on the road to disaster.

RPC: So you disapproved of his attachment to Charlotte?

LJ: Disapprove—fiddlesticks. Haven’t we all, one time or another, done something we would rather not see published in the newspapers? I was moved by sisterly concern.

RPC: After Gilbert’s situation became more complicated—

LJ: Dangerous—murderous!—that’s what it was. Charlotte’s husband got tangled up with powerful Judge Placide—he, with a finger in every pie.

RPC: You risked a great deal by helping your brother. Any regrets?

LJ: For helping Gilbert? None whatsoever. But I truly worried about what my involvement might mean for Ella, who is more friend than housekeeper to me. Gil and I relied so heavily on her discretion.

RPC: Earlier you mentioned your interest in theater. Wasn’t it around the time of Gilbert’s troubles that you met actor/manager Ambrose Parr? Are you and Mr. Parr still seeing each other?

LJ: Yes, we collaborate now and again. And you’re right about the timing. As Gilbert came to crisis, I sat in the theater with Ambrose, enthralled by Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

RPC: Lenore, I can’t help but notice that you and the play’s character of Paulina share some commonalities. Would you care to comment on her influence on your actions?

LJ: With pleasure. How could I not be inspired—indeed, galvanized—by Paulina? She is just like women today—constrained by men in power, denied the right to vote, and so forth. But she, like myself, refuses to be intimidated. Paulina resolves to use her wits to outwit that King of Sicilia, who’s mad with jealousy and causes all sorts of harm to innocent folks.

RPC: You were not actually present in some scenes included in your narrative. How did you manage to describe them in such detail?

LJ: I took an active role in a number of key scenes, and when not present, I took poetic license. Of course, I was already familiar with many of the people and places involved in scenes I didn’t witness. Gilbert, willingly or with a little coaxing, revealed all sorts of details to me, and Ella filled in some gaps. Judge Placide’s wife Helene claims psychic powers, holding her seances, but I read people in the flesh. A gesture, a glance, a tone of voice—they all tell a story.

RPC: Your future plans?

LJ: Play-writing!

 

BOOK BLURB: Lenore James, a woman of independent means who has outlived three husbands, is determined to disentangle her brother Gilbert from the beguiling Charlotte Eden. Chafing against misogyny and racism in the post-Civil War South, Lenore learns that Charlotte’s husband is enmeshed in the re-enslavement schemes of a powerful judge, and she worries that Gilbert’s adoration of Charlotte will lead him into disaster.

BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rosemary Poole-Carter explores aspects of an uneasy past in her novels Only Charlotte, Women of Magdalene, What Remains, and Juliette Ascending, all set in the post-Civil War South. Her plays include The Familiar, a ghost story, and The Little Death, a Southern gothic drama. Fascinated by history, mystery, and the performing and visual arts, she is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America, and the Dramatists Guild of America. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she was a long-time resident of Houston, where she practiced her devotion to reading and writing with students of the Lone Star College System. She now lives and writes by the Eno River in Durham, North Carolina.

You can find out more about her on her WEBSITE and visit with her on FACEBOOK

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1

Book Review: Only Charlotte by Rosemary Poole-Carter

Posted by mcm0704 on August 18, 2019 |

Only Charlotte
Rosemary Poole-Carter
Paperback: 458 pages $15.00
Publisher: Top Publications, Ltd. (July 22, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1733328300
ISBN-13: 978-1733328302
Also available for Kindle $7.99

BLURB: Lenore James, a woman of independent means who has outlived three husbands, is determined to disentangle her brother Gilbert from the beguiling Charlotte Eden. Chafing against misogyny and racism in the post-Civil War South, Lenore learns that Charlotte’s husband is enmeshed in the re-enslavement schemes of a powerful judge, and she worries that Gilbert’s adoration of Charlotte will lead him into disaster.

Inspired by a production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”, Lenore adopts the role of Paulina for herself to discover how far Charlotte’s husband bears the blame for his wife’s fate and whether or not he is capable of atonement. In her process of unraveling the intricacies of the lives of others, Lenore finds that Gilbert’s love for Charlotte is, indeed, his saving grace while Lenore’s passion for creative expression is her own.

REVIEW:  This novel is an enjoyable read on so many levels, and it has some of the best descriptions that I’ve read in quite a while. Just one example is this visual of a flock of sparrows feeding in a graveyard in the fall. “The sparrows’ brown feathers had been indistinguishable from the withered leaves through which they sifted, and in the next, their wings lifted clear in a gust, stirring the air in their upward passage before they reconfigured themselves like a cluster of Autumn leaves miraculously returned to the branches of an oak.”

And in another passage, “The rain itself would cling in various stages of dispersion along his coat sleeves, the newest drops holding their spherical shape another moment before breaking open and spilling their contents into the weave of dark gray wool.”

The use of language to paint word pictures, as well as the author’s deft hand at characterization, reflects her background and experience in dramatics and visual arts. Using Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” as a parallel to the plot of Only Charlotte is a literary device that works seamlessly and quite well, and while reading I looked forward to the next time the two plot lines intertwined as quietly as “A noiseless patient spider.” ACT IV, Scene IV

At just the right times throughout the story, that allusion of the spider was used effectively as a harbinger of the next unexpected plot twist.

Lenore is by far my favorite character – the closest in personality to the author I suspect – with Gilbert only slightly behind. His kindness and compassion makes him a true “healer” and that is displayed quite effectively in how his heart breaks when seeing people, especially children, suffering unnecessarily as the result of the difficult time in which people were living in those years following Reconstruction.

Lenore is a more pragmatic character as reflected in the reverie she has about her late husband, Bartholomew James, who shortly after marriage changed from a considerate romantic to a self-centered elitist. Her musing ends with, “Well, he has gone to his reward. My Equanimity returned.”

Charlotte, around whom the entire story revolves, is a little harder to label. Through most of the story she is a weak, rather hapless person and things happen to her as opposed to her making decisions and taking action. But here again, the author does not disappoint. At just the right time Charlotte does take charge of her life, showing some backbone I always suspected existed.

Overall, this was a delightful book, and I highly recommend it.

BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rosemary Poole-Carter explores aspects of an uneasy past in her novels Only Charlotte, Women of Magdalene, What Remains, and Juliette Ascending, all set in the post-Civil War South. Her plays include The Familiar, a ghost story, and The Little Death, a Southern gothic drama. Fascinated by history, mystery, and the performing and visual arts, she is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America, and the Dramatists Guild of America. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she was a long-time resident of Houston, where she practiced her devotion to reading and writing with students of the Lone Star College System. She now lives and writes by the Eno River in Durham, North Carolina.

You can find out more about her on her WEBSITE and visit with her on FACEBOOK

Do plan on coming back on Monday when Rosemary will be my guest with a fun exchange between herself and Lenore.  

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0

Meet the Author: Erin-Claire Barrow

Posted by mcm0704 on August 14, 2019 |

Help me welcome Erin-Claire Barrow as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. She has written and illustrated the delightful book, The Adventurous Princess and other feminist fairy tales, which I reviewed here this past Sunday. This is a long post, but it’s all quite interesting, especially the history of fairy tales and the men who first wrote them. 🙂

Hi Maryann, thank you so much for having me here, it’s a real pleasure to chat with you about the book, and thank you for your thoughtful review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the exchange between Ella and her fairy godmother in Cinderella, that was a scene I particularly enjoyed writing.

Q. First, I have to say your book was a delight to read. How did you come up with the idea to write the fairy tales with a feminist twist? Do you have an agenda?

A. That’s an interesting choice of words, because it is arguably impossible to tell stories without an agenda of some kind, and people have been retelling fairy tales with many different agendas for hundreds of years. From the 16th to the 19th century, fairy tales were deliberately retold, sometimes in written form for the first time after being an oral tradition for hundreds of years, with a focus on prescribing how people, and children in particular, should behave. Authors also used fairy tales to critique powerful people and institutions, as well as social norms. For example, the subtle critique of the French Court of Louis XIV by late 17th century fairy tale authors, or Madame de Villeneuve’s critique of restrictive marriage practices in her original version of Beauty and the Beast.

I have always loved fairy tales, but many of the traditional ones I grew up with, from the Grimm brothers, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen – through to Disney, don’t truly represent the society we live in today. The heroes of these stories are usually either expressly, or implicitly, straight, white, young, able-bodied and conventionally beautiful. In addition, many of the tales reinforce traditional gender roles and stereotypes, with women being rewarded for their beauty, obedience, and passivity, while men are rewarded for taking risks, being brave, clever, and active.

Today we recognise the diversity within our society and value equality in a way that wasn’t the case when many of these fairy tales were written. In my book, I’m continuing a long tradition of retelling fairy tales to fit the norms and values of the current time. Through this book, I hope more people will be able to see themselves represented in fairy tales.

ODESSY BOOK

Q. Why did you choose these nine fairy tales in particular?

A. I chose them for two reasons. First, I hoped readers would recognise them and enjoy the twists in these retellings. Second, I chose tales that had always sat a little uneasily with me because of the expectations placed on women to be obedient, beautiful, and gentle, with little opportunity to actively change their own stories. A resolution is largely achieved because the woman is the passive recipient of someone else’s ability to resolve the central conflict of the story, often through marriage, and there were sometimes undertones of sexual violence.

For example, in “Allerleirauh”, the hero of the traditional fairy tale first runs from her father, then is reluctantly revealed to another King who declares his intention to marry her regardless of her attempts to pull away or to hide her identity. In the “Swan Maiden”, the title character is kidnapped by a huntsman who immediately marries her because of her beauty; she is forced into a relationship against her will and escapes as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

The Princess from “The Princess and the Pea” is delicate to the point of ridiculous, her only purpose is to prove that she is royalty by being unsuitable to be anything else. The story never questions whether the Prince’s desires align with those of his parents, who want him to marry a delicate princess, much less whether the Princess wants to marry the Prince.

Interestingly, if you consider the history of retelling fairy tales, these characters have not always been depicted this way. Cinderella was a much more active hero before Charles Perrault retold her story in 17th century France. He had very particular ideas about how women should behave – they should be obedient, gentle, and focus on their beauty and how they could best support and please their husbands.

Q. Will there possibly be more fairy tales to come?

A. I hope so! I would be interested to explore a more adult retelling of fairy tales, exploring the subversive potential and darker themes of the traditional stories a little further.

Illustration for “The Beauty & The Beast” story.

Q.  If you could go through a wormhole, would you go into the future, the past, or stay right here? Why?

A. Although I worry that it might be very bleak, I would love to go into the future. I wish I could jump forward a few hundred years, spend a while there getting to know what’s happened, and then jump forward again. I’m eternally curious about what comes next!

Q.  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or have you come to writing after another career? What was that career?

A. I’ve always loved writing, but I’m also an illustrator and much more of my time is spent on illustration than writing. Having said that, neither of these is a full-time career – I’ve always worked full time in other jobs while illustrating and writing. I currently work in policy around supporting vulnerable children and families. I hope one day the illustration or writing will be a full-time career, but I suspect that day is still a while off!

Q.  What is your family’s favorite story to tell on you?

A. When I was little, I was playing outside with my younger brother, and came running into the house screaming for mum to come quickly. Mum thought something terrible had happened to my brother and raced outside. It turned out I wanted to show her the beautiful sunset before it disappeared!

Q.  What other creative things do you do?

A. I love to paint watercolour illustrations. If I had all the spare time in the world I’d love to practice my digital art and my acrylic painting. There are so many things to learn and experiment with!

Q.  What do you do for fun?

A. I really love hiking and getting out to wild places, the wilder the better! I am fortunate that I live within an hour or so drive from some really lovely mountain wilderness, with stunning scenery and challenging hikes. My favourite walk has a lyrebird halfway up the mountain who is always singing, except when it snows!

Photo courtesy of The Australian Museum

Photo of the Lyrebird Courtesy of the Australian Museum

Q.  Do you have a pet?

A. I feel like I need to prove I can keep a plant alive for more than a few months before I can trust myself with a pet! I am currently working hard looking after one little fern and a tiny lichen garden that was a present from my scientist sibling.

You can find out more about Erin-Claire and see her wonderful artwork on her WEBSITE * Visit her on FACEBOOK ** TWITTER **  INSTAGRAM & TUMBLER

BUY LINK FOR THE BOOK

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1

Book Review:The Adventurous Princess by Erin-Claire Barrow

Posted by mcm0704 on August 11, 2019 |

澳洲森林ODESSY BOOK-儿童书-精装本-钢刀

The Adventurous Princess And Other Feminist Fairy Tales
Erin-Claire Barrow

Paperback: 60 pages $14.95
Publisher: Odyssey Books (June 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925652726
ISBN-13: 978-1925652727

BOOK BLURB: What if Beauty stood up to the Beast, the Princess never tried to sleep on the pea (and wouldn’t have noticed it if she had), and the Swan Maiden took her revenge on the hunter who kidnapped her?

The Adventurous Princess and other feminist fairy tales is a retelling of nine traditional fairy tales with a feminist twist. Fairy tales open up new worlds full of enchantment and adventure, but many of these traditional stories also reinforce rigid gender roles and norms, perpetuate stereotypes, and lack diversity in their characters.

In The Adventurous Princess, the charm, whimsy, and magic of traditional fairy tales remain, but the diverse characters challenge stereotypes about who they should be or how they should act, stand up for themselves, and shape their own futures.

REVIEW: The Adventurous Princess is a charming book with delightful illustrations, and I absolutely love the feminist twists on the traditional fairy tales. Not that I’m a raging feminist, but for so long these stories, with only a few exceptions, had the strong male character in the lead and the hapless young maiden who falls victim to whatever skulduggery the men were about. And the diversity of the characters in this new look at the old stories is presented in such an engaging way that this lover of fairy tales didn’t mind at all.

The writing is marvelous, and I really like how the style matches that of the traditional stories in a way that immerses the reader into the spirit of the older versions, while providing the twists. There are humorous moments in each story, and I especially liked how it was done in the second story, Cinderella. It features an older character, Ella, who has to persuade the King to hold a ball and has a clever exchange with her Fairy Godmother.

This is a book for all ages. For mothers and fathers to read to their daughters and sons – perhaps switching genders so Mom reads to a son and Dad reads to a daughter. There are great messages that are artfully woven into the story through words and pictures, and I highly recommend this book.

BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erin-Claire Barrow is an author and illustrator originally from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. She paints in watercolours to create whimsical scenes, storybook illustrations, and bring to life the strange creatures of fairy tales and folklore. Erin-Claire is always on the lookout for ways to combine her passions for art and equality, and is particularly interested in how art can be used to raise awareness of social justice issues. In 2018, she spoke at TEDx Canberra on retelling fairy tales for our diverse, modern society to challenge stereotypes and encourage young people (and especially young women) to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories.

Come back on Wednesday when Erin-Claire will be my guest.

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2

What We Do For Love

Posted by mcm0704 on August 7, 2019 |

After a somewhat stumbling start to my week, I’m happy to let Slim Randles entertain us all today with a bit of levity. 

First I’m in great need of chocolate. How about you? Want to join me in some decadence? Help yourself and enjoy…

When you have a teenage relative, and the minimum age is 21 to go to a certain rock concert, and this relative has to go to the concert or die. Seriously. Die. Because life isn’t worth living if she misses it. And, if someone under 21 can go to the concert only if an adult accompanies them. And … if the only adult who will listen to the begging and the crying and the gnashing of teeth happens to be a semi-old cowboy, well … say hello to Starving Chickens.

I figured, with a name like Starving Chickens, this band probably wouldn’t have the strength to do more than a few numbers before breaking for burgers and fries.

Well, that was just about as wrong a job of figuring as was the rest of my figuring. You see, I also figured the music wouldn’t really hurt your ears, because they would want it to be a pleasant experience. I also figured that with three electric guitars on the stage at one time, at least one guitar player would hit the right chords.

Furthermore, I figured there would be some friendly banter between the group’s leader and the audience. You know, “Hi, how are you, having fun tonight? Now here’s one of our most-requested tunes,” things like that.

The older I get, the wronger I get.

Oh, the head screamer of Starving Chickens (I call him Tattoo Boy) came out to say something to all the impressionable minds waiting for his droplets of wisdom, friendship, and gratitude for coughing up admission. He looked around and then told them to do something quite rude, as well as anatomically impossible.

This brought down the house.

Impressionable Teen looked up at me with the stars of the universe in her eyes and yelled, “Oh wow! Did you hear what he said? And he looked right at me when he said it!”

Then it was two hours of throbbing before we got better. When it was over, we asked each other in sign language if we’d had fun. One thumbs up, one thumbs down.

Sometimes you have to work to stay current with what’s going on in life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can join me now in saying, “Poor Slim.” And he did change the name of the rock band. Just to save you an unnecessary Google search, I did it for you. There were some pretty sad stories about actual chickens starving. ICK!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Brought to you by Merrick Petcare  in Hereford, Texas. “We know it’s not just food in that bowl, it’s love. And that’s why it has to be the best.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.  

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4

Mass Shootings – Mass Hatred

Posted by mcm0704 on August 5, 2019 |

My Heart is Heavy Today

I thought my weekend was horrible because I spent Friday in ER with head pain that had gotten out of control. But the pain that lingers is nothing compared to the pain of the families who lost loved ones in the two mass shootings on Saturday. Nor does it begin to touch the pain of those who were injured.

Mass shooting in Dayton Ohio

Mass shooting in El Paso, Texas

When will it ever end? When will we ever learn? I keep asking those questions over and over on my blog, and I’m not alone.

And then we see posts like this on Facebook. Shared with permission:

On Dave’s birthday in 2012, the nation mourned the children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.

On my birthday in 2017, the nation mourned the 58 who died at a concert in Las Vegas.

Today, on my son’s birthday, the nation mourns the 20 killed in El Paso and the 9 killed in Dayton.

Marking birthdays with mass shootings is a uniquely American possibility.

Does the hateful rhetoric from White Nationalists hold part of the blame for recent tragedies?

Beto O’Rourke spoke out Sunday Morning answering that question, saying unquestionably that it does. And the hate speech starts at the top in Washington D.C.

“We also have to acknowledge that that the open racism and intolerance and hatred that we are seeing throughout this country Being echoed  by the President of the United States who encourages this kind of hatred,” he said.

Does the proliferation of guns, especially assault-type weapons hold part of the blame?

Yes it does, and we can thank Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the Senate who has refused to bring gun control bills that the House has voted on to the Senate floor.

And we must lay part of the blame on the gun-manufacturer whose advertising says that men must have assault weapons to be a real man.

Jennifer Rubin had this to say in an opinion piece at the Washington Post

For decades now, Republicans have insisted mass murders with semiautomatic weapons are not reflective of a gun problem. I can no longer comprehend how such a ludicrous assertion is remotely acceptable. But in one sense they are right: It’s not merely Republicans’ indulgence of the National Rifle Association that puts Americans’ lives in jeopardy; it is the support and enabling of a president that inspires white nationalist terrorists — and even denies white nationalism is a problem.

That’s all for me for today, folks. I do hope we can go forward from here and find real solutions for the problems that all play a part in these horrible events. In the meantime, be safe – I really mean it. And be happy. I mean that, too. 

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All-American Names

Posted by mcm0704 on July 31, 2019 |

Did you listen to the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate last night? I did not, even though I’m very interested in what the candidates stand for. The problem with so many debates is that they turn into attacks on the other candidates, and that is not what a true debate is supposed to be. 

So, I chose to skip the coverage and wait until today to catch the highlights. While I’m scouring the Web to find reports, I’ll let Slim Randles entertain you again. This is a post that can make one stop and think about the problems some immigrants have in being accepted as American citizens. It’s got a cute punchline, too, so it’s worth the read. 

Grab a glass of some refreshing iced tea and enjoy…

Iced mint tea

The Bahdziewicz clan trooped into the Mule Barn for lunch the other day, happily and noisily as only eight Americans totally in love with summer can do. The patriarch of the clan, Abraham Lincoln Bahdziewicz, led the way to a large round table and seated his wife, Sally, before pointing to which chairs the kids should use. Some people can make a celebration out of sitting down to eat, and Abe’s gang knows how to do it.

The children, clockwise, were Woodrow Wilson Bahdziewicz, Betsy Ross Bahdziewicz, Neal Armstrong Bahdziewicz, John Kennedy Bahdziewicz, and Franklin Delano Bahdziewicz. Sally got a high chair for the youngest family member, Laura Bush Bahdziewicz.

We watched them order four meals for the seven of them, along with some empty plates for divvying things up. Then we took bets on whether or not they would have to ask for a “to go” box or two to take home with them. They didn’t. Laura Bush Bahdziewicz had to have chocolate cream pie wiped from her face twice during dessert, too.

Before they packed up to go, Abe came over to shake hands with the members of the world dilemma think tank here at the philosophy counter. He always looks as though he’s just headed home to open Christmas presents, and we envied him that wonderful zest for life.

“Abe,” said Doc, when it was his turn to shake hands, “we’ve been wondering. You’re named after a president, and all your kids are named for famous Americans.”

“That’s right,” Abe said. “My brothers and sister, too. All of us but my wife, Sally, and I call her Sally Ride Bahdziewicz sometimes, just for fun.”

“How did all that naming come about?”

“Well,” Abe said, “my dad came from Poland as a kid, and the other kids at school teased him about not being a real American, you know? So he decided his kids would never have that problem. They may have some trouble pronouncing the last name, but at least they know we’re Americans.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Brought to you by Merrick Petcare in Hereford, Texas. “We know it’s not just food in that bowl, it’s love. And that’s why it has to be the best.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by mcm0704 on July 29, 2019 |

Yesterday I was at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts for the latest Women In the Arts Exhibition. What fun it was to be there and see all the lovely works and meet the artists, and I was thrilled to be part of the show with my book, Evelyn Evolving. Thanks to my friend, Jane St. Romain for taking the picture of me next to the display.

This morning, while I was trying to think of what else I might write about here on the blog, I was coming up with nothing, so I decided to hop over to The Blood-Red Pencil blog to see the latest post there. Interestingly enough, the topic was how the negative aspects of current affairs has many writers feeling emotionally exhausted. We need emotional energy in order to put passion and excitement into the stories we write, because without passion, everything is flat. The settings, the characters, the plot and the narrative.

The post, Is the State of the World Affecting Your Writing? by Polly Iyer, and all the comments, are worth reading if you would like to get into the minds of writers and learn a little more about how we work that is so different from most other jobs. A writer friend, Melanie Jackson, summed it up quite well with her comment, “My writing has always come from a place of hope and that is a location very hard to find these days.”

And now, because I still haven’t thought of anything else to say here, I’ll turn the blog over to my friend Slim Randles and his pal, Dud. Enjoy…

“I took Duckworth to the dog show up in the city last weekend,” Dud said.

The other members of the Mule Barn truck stop’s world dilemma think tank and philosophy counter just looked at him.

Doc put it gently. “Dud? Was this so he could get some inspiration on looking good?”

Duckworth was a medium-sized dog that found Dud while Dud was walking and thinking about the novel he’s writing. No one answered the ad he put in the Valley Weekly Miracle, so he bunked in with Dud and, for some reason Dud seemed to want to keep to himself, the dog was henceforth known as Duckworth.  And, to be honest, Duckworth looked like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

“No, I was going to enter him in the dog show,” Dud said. “Took him right up to the registration table and tried to get him in a class. The lady there looked at ol’ Duck and asked to see his papers.”

Dud grinned. “I told her they were back home on the floor of the laundry room. She didn’t think it was funny.”

Now Duckworth had been introduced to the other dogs in the group at the sale barn, as is the custom, and Dud’s pals had been hesitant to ask much about him. Duckworth looked like something put together by a committee with a sense of humor. Oh, he was a dog … no doubt about that. But what kind of dog was he? It made for interesting coffee speculation, that’s for sure.

“You know,” Dud said, “Anita was against me getting any kind of dog until Duckworth came along. When I explained to her that Duckworth was a bird dog … a duck dog, actually, and that he’d help me bring more birds home, she finally gave in.”

“He’s a bird dog?” Steve said. “What kind?”

“Now that’s what that dog show lady asked me, you know? I had to explain to her about canardly terriers, because she wasn’t familiar with them.”

“Canar…?”

“Canardly terriers, you betcha,” Dud said, grinning, “why, I’ll bet you canardly tell what kind of terrier he is!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Brought to you by Merrick Petcare  in Hereford, Texas. “We know it’s not just food in that bowl, it’s love. And that’s why it has to be the best.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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