Follow by Email

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

when is a book not a book

When is a Book not a Book

Sarah Palin has a book out on politics. So what? Obama wrote a book also. Again, so what? Politicians, actors (sorry about the redundancy), journalists, commentators, and dozens of others write books. And again, so what?

If you buy one looking for an epiphany of some sort, all you’ll discover is the same old garbage rehashed from that individual’s point of view.

I haven’t read any of them, but I’ll wager you half the facts in each are questionable with some being outright lies. Sorry, I mean ‘fabrications’. Our present administration is big on political correctness. We don’t have a ‘war on terror’ any longer. No, it’s something like ‘overseas contingency’ or some such nonsense.

Skewing the truth, which appears to be a prerequisite for political office at the state and federal level, is a means to confuse and mislead citizens, a ploy that has proven quite successful.

I did watch Palin on TV the other night. I don’t know if I would vote for her or not, but one thing that caught my attention was the remark that in the proposed health bill, people will have to buy policies that "will cost a minimum of about $15,000 per family per year." That’s when I sat up and took notice.

Doing some research on her comment, of which I admit I was very skeptical, I ran across the following details on PolitiFact, an impartial project of the ‘St. Petersburg Times’.

The article cast a fairly understanding light on that fifteen thousand dollar remark. You might want to pay attention, especially, if you buy your own insurance.

Currently, the bill more or less won’t tinker with those who get insurance through work, VA, Medicare, or Medicaid. (nobody can say what it will do tomorrow)

The poor souls it lambasts are those who buy it on their own or who are uninsured. Folks of modest means will get a credit to help buy it, and the poorest will be put on Medicaid.

The $15,000 is not something Palin created as a political ploy. The figure came from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that when all the reforms are enacted by 2016, a basic family policy will cost $15,000.

What about the tax credits? Well, right now, it is on a sliding scale up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which means for a family of four making under $88,200 or a single under $43,320, there will be some relief. How much? Beats me. That’s another one of those ‘reforms’ left up to a panel of bureaucrats, so guess what?

She was wrong when she made the comment that Reagan inherited a recession much worse than this one. Lou Jacobson of the ‘St. Petersburg News’ talked with economists and compared statistics of the current recession with the one from the early 1980s. The consensus was that this recession is worse.

Why? Well, from what he wrote, economists (not bureaucrats) believe short and long-term employment will continue to rise; industrial production will continue to fall; more banks will fail; and more foreclosures will take place.

On the other hand, she was right when she stated that Obama admitted that “under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."

In fairness to him, he went on to say, "Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers."

All I can say is that joker is mighty anxious to spend my money.
If you’ve been paying any attention, you’ve seen the press Palin is getting about her book.

Perhaps it’s my imagination, but it seems to me the last time I witnessed such a groundswell of adoration was prior to the 2008 election when the majority of Americans swept up in Obamamania.

Remember the old saying, ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

Let’s don’t let emotion cause us to make another big mistake like the one we have now. Let’s start asking hard questions and demanding straight answers for all of the politicians. We can’t afford more of the same.

tough turkey

One Tough Turkey

If I’ve learned anything in this life of mine, it is family makes holidays happy and joyous, not golden brown turkeys or a carload of presents. To be honest, I can’t remember the meals or the gifts, but I have a vivid recollection of the family gathered round, sitting on every available chair, armrest, stool, or sitting cross-legged on the floor, all balancing plates of fired chicken on their laps with glasses of tea or buttermilk sitting on the floor beside them while they laughed and joked about old memories.

When I was a kid. We never had turkey, but I’ll never forget the time we had rooster out at my grandparents’ farm. Yep, that’s right, a big old white leghorn rooster that was meaner than sin.

The year after the war, we arrived at Mama and Papa’s a couple days early. My cousin Ed and his folks lived on the farm. Ed could do everything about the farm better than me, milk cows, gather eggs, feed stock. But the one skill of his I most envied was his deadly accuracy with the slingshot, you know, that Y shaped weapon that has gotten more than one mischievous boy in a heap of trouble.

Ed could knock birds out of a tree. I missed the tree. He could pop a cotton ball from the branch. I couldn’t hit the cotton patch itself. The only time I hit anything was when I was aiming at something else.

Of course, great hunters that we were, we had to go on safari around the farm. To my chagrin, Ed got a barn pigeon. I missed the barn—from inside. Now they had an old rooster that was cock-eyed, but he was Papa’s prize rooster. Several times, the rooster charged us, but Ed always stopped him with a rock at the rooster’s feet.

Next morning, after Ed left for the last day of school before Thanksgiving, I set out to sharpen my slingshot skills.

Keeping my eyes peeled for the old cock-eyed rooster, I spent the morning stalking pigeons and sparrows. Once, I sent some tail feathers flying, but that was it. I did send a few cows and hogs scrambling, and soon I was able to hit a tin can two or three out of ten shots. Never saw the rooster.

Then, on the way to the house for dinner, that sucker jumped me, flailing his wings and flashing his wicked spurs. I whipped off a shot at his feet, and hit that cock-eyed bird in the head.

He did half-a-dozen somersaults, staggered around like some of my uncles after too much celebrating, bounced off the ground more times than I could count and finally flopped down into a ditch by the end of a culvert, something else I’ve witnessed from some of my uncles.

I looked around in horror. No one had seen me. My heart pounding, I jammed a couple tumbleweeds over the still twitching rooster, then hightailed it back to the barn where I remained the rest of the day, waiting for my reckoning. Just about the time I began to relax, Mama Holley suddenly appeared in the barn door, the rooster in her hand.

Grabbing me my the ear, she led me into the house where, with the stern admonition that was my meal the next day, she ducked the rooster in scalding water, then into the sink and put me to plucking.

The whole family teased me, warning me about how tough that old rooster would be after Mama baked it.

Now, our family was so large, we had to eat buffet style. You can imagine my surprise when, instead of the baked rooster, Mama set a large bowl with a fluted rim next to the platter of fried chicken. In the bowl reposed the old rooster, cut up and stewed until the meat fell off the bones.

Heaped over a bed of mashed potatoes, that was one tasty rooster, as roosters go. In fact, the stew disappeared faster than the fried chicken.

After dinner, Papa took me aside and told me I had to buy him another rooster, but since I had no money, he reckoned I could clean out the stalls in the barn.
I wanted to argue, but one look at my Dad, and I agreed.

That was sixty-three years ago. You know, I can still smell those stalls. Jeez, wouldn’t it be nice to go back for awhile?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

tought turkey

One Tough Turkey

If I’ve learned anything in this life of mine, it is family makes holidays happy and joyous, not golden brown turkeys or a carload of presents. To be honest, I can’t remember the meals or the gifts, but I have a vivid recollection of the family gathered round, sitting on every available chair, armrest, stool, or sitting cross-legged on the floor, all balancing plates of fired chicken on their laps with glasses of tea or buttermilk sitting on the floor beside them while they laughed and joked about old memories.

When I was a kid. We never had turkey, but I’ll never forget the time we had rooster out at my grandparents’ farm. Yep, that’s right, a big old white leghorn rooster that was meaner than sin.

The year after the war, we arrived at Mama and Papa’s a couple days early. My cousin Ed and his folks lived on the farm. Ed could do everything about the farm better than me, milk cows, gather eggs, feed stock. But the one skill of his I most envied was his deadly accuracy with the slingshot, you know, that Y shaped weapon that has gotten more than one mischievous boy in a heap of trouble.
Ed could knock birds out of a tree. I missed the tree. He could pop a cotton ball from the branch. I couldn’t hit the cotton patch itself. The only time I hit anything was when I was aiming at something else.

Of course, great hunters that we were, we had to go on safari around the farm. To my chagrin, Ed got a barn pigeon. I missed the barn—from inside. Now they had an old rooster that was cock-eyed, but he was Papa’s prize rooster. Several times, the rooster charged us, but Ed always stopped him with a rock at the rooster’s feet.

Next morning, after Ed left for the last day of school before Thanksgiving, I set out to sharpen my slingshot skills.

Keeping my eyes peeled for the old cock-eyed rooster, I spent the morning stalking pigeons and sparrows. Once, I sent some tail feathers flying, but that was it. I did send a few cows and hogs scrambling, and soon I was able to hit a tin can two or three out of ten shots. Never saw the rooster.

Then, on the way to the house for dinner, that sucker jumped me, flailing his wings and flashing his wicked spurs. I whipped off a shot at his feet, and hit that cock-eyed bird in the head.

He did half-a-dozen somersaults, staggered around like some of my uncles after too much celebrating, bounced off the ground more times than I could count and finally flopped down into a ditch by the end of a culvert, something else I’ve witnessed from some of my uncles.

I looked around in horror. No one had seen me. My heart pounding, I jammed a couple tumbleweeds over the still twitching rooster, then hightailed it back to the barn where I remained the rest of the day, waiting for my reckoning. Just about the time I began to relax, Mama Holley suddenly appeared in the barn door, the rooster in her hand.

Grabbing me my the ear, she led me into the house where, with the stern admonition that was my meal the next day, she ducked the rooster in scalding water, then into the sink and put me to plucking.

The whole family teased me, warning me about how tough that old rooster would be after Mama baked it.

Now, our family was so large, we had to eat buffet style. You can imagine my surprise when, instead of the baked rooster, Mama set a large bowl with a fluted rim next to the platter of fried chicken. In the bowl reposed the old rooster, cut up and stewed until the meat fell off the bones.

Heaped over a bed of mashed potatoes, that was one tasty rooster, as roosters
go. In fact, the stew disappeared faster than the fried chicken.

After dinner, Papa took me aside and told me I had to buy him another rooster, but since I had no money, he reckoned I could clean out the stalls in the barn.

I wanted to argue, but one look at my Dad, and I agreed.

That was sixty-three years ago. You know, I can still smell those stalls. Jeez, wouldn’t it be nice to go back for awhile?

rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

rooster for thanksgiving

One Tough Turkey

If I’ve learned anything in this life of mine, it is that holidays are made happy and joyous because of family, not golden brown turkeys or a carload of presents. To be honest, I can’t remember the meals or the gifts, but I have a vivid recollection of the family gathered round, sitting on every available chair, armrest, stool, all balancing plates of fired chicken on their laps with glasses of tea or buttermilk sitting on the floor beside them while they laughed and joked about old memories.

When I was a kid. We never had turkey. Once, though, we had rooster out at my grandparents’ farm. Yep, that’s right, a big old white leghorn rooster that was meaner than sin.

Descended from hardy pioneers, Mama Holley never discarded anything. She always found a use for it, and that’s where the rooster came in.

The year after the war, we arrived at Mama and Papa’s a couple days early. My cousin Ed and his folks lived on the farm. Ed could do everything about the farm better than me, milk cows, gather eggs, feed stock. But the one skill of his I most envied was his deadly accuracy with the slingshot, you know, that Y shaped weapon that has gotten more than one mischievous boy in a heap of trouble.

Ed could knock birds out of a tree. I usually missed the tree. He could pop a cotton ball from the branch. I couldn’t hit the cotton field itself.
The only time I hit something was when I was aiming at something else.

One holiday we went hunting with our slingshots. To my chagrin, Ed got a barn pigeon. I missed the barn—from inside. Now they had an old rooster that was cock-eyed, but he was Papa’s prize rooster. Several times, the rooster charged us, but Ed always stopped him with a rock at the rooster’s feet.

Next morning, after Ed left for the last day of school before Thanksgiving, I set out to sharpen my slingshot skills.

By now, the whole clan had gathered from five hundred miles around, around thirty or so. I had some other cousins there, but they were several years older, so I was all by myself. But that was okay. I had some practicing to get in.

Keeping my eyes peeled for the old cock-eyed rooster, I spent the morning stalking pigeons and sparrows. Once, I sent some tail feathers flying, but that was it. I did send a few cows and hogs scrambling, and soon I was able to hit a tin can two or three out of ten shots. Never saw the rooster.

Then, on the way to the house for dinner, that sucker jumped me, flailing his wings and flashing those spurs of his. I whipped off a shot at his feet, and hit that cockeyed bird in the head.

He did half-a-dozen somersaults, staggered around like some of my uncles after too much celebrating, bounced off the ground more times than I could count and finally flopped down into a ditch by the end of a culvert.

I looked around in horror. No one had seen me. My heart pounding, I jammed a couple tumbleweeds over the still twitching rooster, then hightailed it back to the barn where I remained the rest of the day, waiting for my reckoning. Just about the time I began to relax, Mama Holley suddenly appeared in the barn door, the rooster in her hand.

Grabbing me my the ear, she led me into the house where, with the admonition that was my meal the next day, she ducked the rooster in scalding water, then into the sink and put me to plucking.

The whole family teased me, warning me about how tough that old rooster would be after Mama baked it.

Well, our family was so large, we ate buffet style. You can imagine my surprise when next day, instead of the baked rooster, Mama set a large bowl next to the platter of fried chicken. In the bowl reposed the old rooster, cut up and stewed until the meat fell off the bones.

Heaped over a bed of mashed potatoes, that was one tasty rooster, as roosters go. In fact, the stew disappeared faster than the chicken.

After dinner, Papa took me aside and told me I had to buy him another rooster. Since I had no money, we struck a bargain. I could clean out the stalls in the barn.

I wanted to argue, but one look at my Dad, and I agreed.

That was sixty-three years ago. I can still smell those stalls as if it were yesterday.






rconwell@gt.rr.comwww.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 5, 2009

writing conference

Welcome Back, GTWG Conference

Isn’t it a good feeling when something you’ve being looking forward to turns out just about like you had hoped?

'That happened to me a couple weekends back when the Golden Triangle Writers Guild held its first writer’s conference in five years. Rita blew away the last one, and since then, it’s been a struggle for the folks at GTWG to put things back together.

But, they finally they got all the pieces together, and from October 22 through October 24, wanabe writers as well as experienced writers enjoyed two solid days of nothing but writing and all the collateral aspects of the craft.

It was held at the Elegante on I-10.

There were breakout sessions for poetry, screenwriting, fiction, and nonfiction.

Those who presented the programs were editors, agents, publishers, and writers.

Folks attend these conferences for many reasons; some to learn the nuts and bolts of the craft; others for contacts to further their own careers; others who desire to further hone their skills; and still others just because they enjoy the camaraderie of fellow writers.

Just as the opening weekend of hunting season is treasured by the hunter, this conference weekend was the perfect one for a writer.

Casey Kelly, as always, sorted though all the mysteries of screenwriting for the attendees. A longtime WGA screenwriter with two aired NBC movies of the week and other scripts written for CBS, Disney, Columbia, Paramount and Warner, she has two features currently in pre-production.

From romance to paranormal, there is no genre of writing the Pat LoBruto has not made is own either as an editor, writer, or anthologist. After thirty years, he became an Editorial Consultant and Master Class Instructor for authors, and acquiring editor for Tor/Forge and Quill Driver Book/Word Dancer Press.
With Pat, aspiring writers could ask questions to their heart’s content.

There were many there like Pat-- Jerry Grossman, Greg Tobin, Phil Martin of Creekhollow Books. And many more presenters to aid the unpublished as well as the published writers.

Catherine Sellers, one of the guild founders, helped the newcomer’s with the basics; Rebecca Hardin and Casey Kelly pointed how to new writers just how goal-setting would enhance their careers. New and old writers were shown how to develop book projects, write romance, and of course there were sessions on building stories, strong writing, novel secrets, believable characters, and selling the books.

And no GTWG conference would be complete without Robert Vaughn, both presenter and speaker at our luncheon. Dick is unique among those gracious enough to put on the conference. My first experience hearing Dick Vaughn was at the same hotel twenty-five years ago. From that one day session, I wrote my first romance novel, which I regret to say has never sold.

And none of this would have been available for the Golden Triangle had it not been for the writers’ guild and those who fought to bring it back from Hurricane Rita and nurtured it over the last few years.

D.J. Resnick, one of the founders of the guild back in the early eighties, was the primary force behind the rebirth of the conference. D.J. lives this side of Woodville, but teaches continuing writing courses at Lamar each semester.

After Rita blew the conference apart, the consensus was that the guild was dead. Twenty-five years is a long time for a social organization of such limited interest to survive, especially when the initial members begin moving away.

No question in my mind now, there will be another conference next year. You can count on it. Mark your calendar. Around the third weekend in October. Sharpen your pencil and pull out your pad. It’ll be a weekend you won’t forget.

And you can thank D.J.








rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

fun halloween

A Halloween to Remember

I’ve been lucky over the years for I’ve had some of the most frightening and exciting Halloweens ever.

In our little town in the Texas Panhandle, Halloween saw all the dusty streets filled with little ghosts and goblins. Not too many back then had costumes. If you were one of the lucky ones, you probably had a black mask like the Lone Ranger. Some of girls even had masks of pink or red.

One of the most common tricks back then was soaping windows. It was amazing how much writing you could get from a bar of Ivory soap. Some of the more daring boys toppled outhouses, what few there were; some went as far as putting cows on the schoolhouse roof or in the principal’s office.

But it just wasn’t kids who were out. Oh, no, there were always a few adults who planned on putting extra fright in some of the trick or treaters—all in fun.
I had a couple of those experiences

Once, I spent Halloween on my grandmother’s farm. With only one neighbor, so I figured Halloween was shot.

Then one of my uncles told my cousin, Ed, and me that if we really wanted to see a scary ghost that night, all we had to do was put our clothes on backwards and then walk backwards three times around the old hanging tree by the cow tank. According to my uncles, if we did that, the rustler who had been hanged would reappear that night.

Well, we didn’t really believe his trick to conjure up a ghost, but that afternoon, when no one was looking, Ed and I put our clothes on backward and walked backward around the hanging tree three times.

That night, Ed and I trudged down the lane with handkerchiefs over our faces like bank robbers in the Saturday picture shows, and trick or treated the neighbors. Of course, they let on like they didn’t know who we were and pretended they were frightened.

Then their two boys accompanied us back to my grandparents so we could trick or treat them. Before we left, we told our friends about conjuring up the ghost. They snickered at us.

Now, you’ve got to get the picture here. The full moon was straight overhead. On either side of the lane were pastures dotted with mesquite, and I promise you, in the dark, the twisted mesquite limbs took on mighty scary shapes in the eyes of spooky ten and eleven year old boys.

And the fact we were talking about ghosts and werewolves and such didn’t help. Our frightened eyes made every shadow into Dracula or the Frankenstein monster.

And then we saw it. Far to the north in the pasture, a floating white object. The wind seemed to be carrying it toward us, and then a mournful, whining moan came through the mesquite.

I remember leaning forward and squinting at the apparition, and when I looked around, I was all alone. My cousin and his pals were a hundred yards down the lane. Well, you can believe me when I can tell you, I did my best to catch up with them.

The apparition grew closer, and I ran harder. I caught them as they reached the house, and we burst inside, four breathless, frightened boys.

It must have taken us ten minutes to stammer out what happened. The grownups shook their head, and one uncle growled at us. “Did you boys put your clothes on backward?”

Reluctantly, we nodded.

He groaned. “That did it. That brought back old Burl.”

Another one nodded. “How long’s it been now, fifty years since he got cut all to pieces. He’s still looking for his missing hand.”

“Never did find who cut him down and chopped him up.”

Well, you can imagine when we heard that, our eyes bugged out like a stepped-on toad frogs.

And I don’t have to tell you how big they got when my grandfather said, “Well, Kent, it’s getting late. You and Ed walk your young friends back home, and then hurry back.”

Wild horses couldn’t have pulled us from that house.

One of my uncles had to take our friends back home.

And they couldn’t get us outside the next day.

Years later, we learned the whole family had played a big joke on Ed and me. It was my Uncle Bud, Ed’s daddy, who played Burl in a sheet.As I stare into the flames in our fireplace now, I tell you this, folks, those are memories I’ll never forget.