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Archive for the tag “Mark Twain”

Nightbeat: How to live long, if not prosper

Rome, Georgia, August 12, 2017, Star-Gazer News Service–At my age, several things are happening, especially on my birthday. First, my newspaper is trying to force me into retirement because I refuse to write opinionated news like to many of today’s modern “journalists.” Second, people keep saying, “Jock, you look so young.” And finally, folks want to know how to live a long life.

It’s tempting to just toss off my dear old daddy’s prescription and then get the hell away from everyone asking that silly question. He always said, “Drink a pint of moonshine everyday while smoking three packs of Marlboro cigarettes. “ He said this before Marlboro started marketing pot cigarettes in green boxes.

Actually, when my wife isn’t listening, I say the true solution is booze, books and blondes. If she hears me, she ruins the ambiance of the moment by saying, “Didn’t I tell you to lay off those blondes?” She’s a brunette whom I met at work when we both really looked good enough to meet people at work. She also tells me to cut back on “the sauce,” which leads to further trouble when I say a half a bottle of single malt Scotch either makes brunettes look like blondes or makes it not matter.

So, that leaves me with the books. Studies have shown (I’m not making this up) that books lead to a longer life. Of course, you gotta start early. It’s not like asking God for forgiveness on your death bed after a life of sin.

Books won’t save you if you wait until your at death’s door before you pick up, say, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and expect it to work like the fountain of youth. Books save you slowly over the long haul and–except for Finnegans Wake–are less dangerous than blondes for men or women with a brunette spouse.

A psychologist–and we know how “sane” they are–suggested on Facebook that it takes 65 days to create a habit. Let’s say she’s right. If you had read your English teacher’s book report assignments in middle school and high school, you’d be all set by now no matter hold old you are unless you’re in the 5th grade. Booze and blondes don’t take 65 days to become a habit, but in most school systems, they’re not assigned as middle school or high school homework–and if they were, woe be unto the kid whose dear old mama finds either one in his/her room after the lights are out.

One thing to avoid when you reach AARP age is trying to play one-upmanship with other AARP friends about your illnesses. After 65 days of that, you’re en route to an early grave. Plus, young people hate sitting on a front porch while granny says something like, “You think alcoholism is bad, I’ve got hemorrhoids.” If granny had just read a book, that wouldn’t have happened. Too late now, though.

Mark Twain once told a joke about an old lady who went to the doctor with some illness or other. The doc told her to give up smoking, and she said she didn’t smoke. When he suggested giving up chewing tobacco, she said she didn’t partake. He listed a long string of other real of imagined vices to which she said she didn’t do any of that stuff. Twain’s comment to the audience was, “So there it was. She was like a sinking ship with no extra freight to throw overboard.”

I heard this joke when I was a kid and it made a strong impression on me. I picked up as many vices as I could and as I got older, I’ve have plenty of dead weight to jettison in order to stay healthy. True, my wife might force me to throw the blondes overboard along with most of the booze. But, like Paris, I’ll always have my books.

Editorial Column by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter 


Book Bits: #TwitterFiction, Moaning Myrtle, Tom Brokaw, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’

BookBitsWe’ve been told “silence is golden.” There are times when there’s way too much talking, too much noise, and too much spoiling of a good moment with sounds that don’t belong there.

Silence can also cover a multitude of sins. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggested in her PEN speech that “The fear of causing offense, the fear of ruffling the careful layers of comfort, becomes a fetish.” Are the social media and other forces keeping us from saying what needs to be said? (Item 4)

  1. News: The #TwitterFiction Festival is reinventing short stories for millennials, by M. J. Franklin – “Writers, it might be time to put down your pens and pick up your keyboards — The #TwitterFiction festival is back!”  Mashable
  2. AlexandrianFeature: Resurrecting An Extinct Novel: On Rereading ‘Alexandrian Summer,’ by Yitzhak Gormezano Goren – “When Alexandrian Summer was first published in Israel in 1978 by Am Oved, the country’s most prestigious publisher at that time, the back cover boasted the following statement: “An achievement and innovation in Hebrew Literature.” I was living then in the U.S. and had nothing to do with that hazardous claim.”  Lit Hub
  3. News: J.K. Rowling Reveals Moaning Myrtle’s Full Name On Twitter, by  Maryann Yin – “Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling has unveiled a surprising revelation on Twitter. When one fan, known as @HotmHayles, asked her about the full name of a minor (but memorable) character named Moaning Myrtle, Rowling responded: ‘Myrtle Elizabeth Warren.'”  Galley Cat
  4. Chimamanda


    Viewpoint: ‘Fear of causing offence becomes a fetish,’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – “‘No one is being murdered or hauled off by the American government to prison for writing a novel,’ said Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture, which closed the PEN World Voices festival in New York Sunday night. Though couched in a thoughtful set of anecdotes, Adichie had sharp words for her mostly young and vocal audience about the ‘codes of silence’ that govern American life.”  The Guardian

  5. Feature: How to Quit Your Day Job to Write: Next Steps to Becoming a Full-Time TV & Film Writer, by Cary Tusan – “Every day I set goals, or intentions, for myself for the day that I physically write down. I might not always achieve those goals, but that’s okay. Some of the goals are future goals beyond today. Setting intentions has been helpful for me when I do them on a daily basis. (They’re presented by everyone from Deepak Chopra to Wayne Dyer.) Intention plays right into having patience and faith about the timing of everything.”  SSN
  6. luckylifeReview: “A Lucky Life Interrupted,” by Tom Brokaw, reviewed by Sharon Peters – “Tom Brokaw, perennial journalist and information-sharer, remains that — even now, when he’s 75, sort of retired, and living with what doctors say is incurable cancer.”  USA Today
  7. News: Booksellers, Librarians Push for Passage of USA Freedom Act, by Rachel Deahl – “The coalition of booksellers, authors, readers and librarians that make up the Campaign for Reader Privacy has pressed the House Judiciary Committee to pass the bi-partisan USA Freedom Act of 2015. In a statement about the group’s support, the coalition said the bill will ‘restore some privacy safeguards to the government’s surveillance activities.'”  Publishers Weekly
  8. Danielewski


    Interview: Mark Danielewski (“The Familiar: One Rainy Day in May”),“The author behind the groundbreaking best-seller House Of Leaves is now releasing a new novel called The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day In May — and that’s volume one of, yes, a planned 27. (Volume 2 comes out in October.)”  NPR

  9. News: Maryland’s Annapolis Bookstore Launches Sponsorship Program – “The Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, Md., has launched a sponsorship program that aims to sign up 300 patrons and raise $50,000 to be able to ‘make the business sustainable by offering online shopping, develop larger events and make the store more of a venue space,’ according to the Capital Gazette.”  Shelf Awareness
  10. stripedPJReview: “The Boy in Striped Pajamas,” by John Boyne, reviewed by James Webb – “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is an unusual story, one of the most difficult and disturbing a teen will ever read. It is the story of an event seared into the fabric of history. It is a fable told through the voice of a child, but it is not for children, and this is not just any child.”  Book Page
  11. How To: How to destroy the pacing of your story, by Malcolm R. Campbell – “Pacing can help a writer’s work or destroy it. Sometimes, it’s a matter of personal taste. If you read your stuff aloud, you’ll hear the pacing as surely as you hear the rhythm of a song on the radio. The pace not only needs to feel right, it needs to make logical sense.”  Malcolm’s Round Table
  12. Looking Back: “On this day in 1883 Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi was published. Much of the book had appeared as a popular magazine series years earlier; Twain saw an opportunity not only for profitable recycling but for revisiting the world of his youth after twenty-one years away — to do research, and ‘to see the river again, and the steamboats, and such of the boys as might be left.'” Today In Literature

KIndle cover 200x300Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” a 1950s-era novel about folk magic and the KKK in the Florida Panhandle.

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