RUBBERMAID, SAY IT AIN’T SO!

(Note: It is acknowledged Rubbermaid is a registered trademark, not indicated as such within this posting only because of technical restrictions of the format)

Hi, Captain Consumer here!  I just declared  myself a superhero and adopted that name. I got unusually good reaction to a posting I did a few months back.  Actually, I’ve discussed the issue a few times previously.  It has to do with consumer product packaging. I was born with a gene that makes me supersensitive to the pictures on packaging that do not accurately depict the product inside.  Last time it was crab cakes, this time it’s not the illustration itself that has me upset, but the deceptive design of the packaging and obscure disclosure.0.

Okay, what started today’s rampage?  Rubbermaid. Yep, Rubbermaid, a company whose products I’ve always purchased with absolutely no hesitation. They make all kinds of quality household goods from outdoor sheds to picnic coolers, to big and small trash cans, to a gazillion boxes and containers.  Oh, did I say containers?  You’ve seen the ones for food storage that all the supermarkets sell.  You know, the ones with the bright red lids. I’ll bet at least half of America’s refrigerators, at this very moment, have at least one Rubbermaid container filled with some kind of leftover sitting on a shelf inside.  And what do you do when you discover you don’t have the right size container or some of the lids mysteriously no longer fit any of the bottoms?  You buy more Rubbermaid containers.  Of course you do. 

And so, today I got some new Rubbermaid.  I bought two of the super big ones because I never have a large enough container when I make chocolate chip cookies.  Then I got a 3-pack of small containers for things like leftover veggies.  And now we’ve come to the main event!  This package appeared as it always has (see second picture beIow). There were three food storage containers stacked together as usual, but when I pulled them out of the cardboard sleeve , guess what?  They consisted of one container of the size I expected, and two SMALLER ones stacked inside the larger one.   That’s the three of them pictured below.

Of course, Rubbermaid will tell me they weren’t being deceptive since it is clearly disclosed on front of the sleeve that the containers vary in size.  Hence the next picture.

Now, you tell me, if you have been buying Rubbermaid food storage containers for several years and they’ve always been packaged the same way and the containers in each package have always been the same size…well, you get my point. 

Oh God, all I can here is my father oft-quoting Sir Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  Why is it so hard for some companies to simply be truthful when their economy calls for a product price change?  I rather pay another honest dime or two than have their marketing experts sit around their board room contriving ways to make obscure changes, thinking I’m too stupid to notice.  Is that too much of a stretch for Rubbermaid?  Shouldn’t be …think of their name.

*****

Posted in consumerism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TIME IT WAS

I was reluctant to begin this posting with the overused line, “When I was a young boy…” but I am at a loss for what to say otherwise. See, today I got to thinking about some random things out of my past, so tough it up and get ready…and, yes, that’s me in the picture…when I was a young boy.

When I was a young boy…Every drug store (now called pharmacies) had a soda fountain.  For six cents I could get a fresh made chocolate soda with a straw.  The person behind the counter (usually a high school kid who was referred to as a “soda jerk”) would grab a glass and pump a few squirts of chocolate syrup into it from a dispenser. Then, he’d put it under a spout and pull a lever to fill the glass with seltzer water. While the glass was filling he’d be whipping it all in a frenzy until the glass was full with a frothy chocolate head on top.  I must have consumed thousands of these when I was a young boy.

When I was a young boy…While I sipped away at my chocolate soda I could, if I wanted to spend an additional penny, lift the metal lid off a round glass container that rested atop every fountain counter in every drug store and help myself to a pretzel rod.  Yeah, I just reached in with my well-traveled dirty hands like everyone else and pulled out one of the unwrapped pretzel rods.  Mind you, these rods were nothing like the ones you buy today that are in a cellophane bag at the supermarket.  No way.  When I was a young boy the pretzel rods were longer and at least 2-to-3 times thicker.

When I was a young boy…At the very same fountain where I sipped my chocolate sodas and munched on pretzel rods, was where, every once in a while, my folks would spring for some ice cream.  Back then you could always get fresh ice cream like today: scooped from five-gallon cardboard tubs kept in freezer compartments behind the counter.  Except for cones, ice cream was sold “loose,” not packaged like today. You would tell the jerk what flavor and how much you wanted and he’d scoop your order into a paper tray, slap a piece of wax paper tissue over it, shove it in a brown paper bag and off you’d go, getting home as fast as you could.

When I was a young boyThere were no 7-11’s, Circle K’s or WaWa’s or anything called a convenience store.”  Nope, instead we had “luncheonettes.” These sold a conglomerate of limited essential goods–food and household products and fresh sliced cold cuts.  You could also sit in one of the small booths in the back and order a sandwich or a piece of pie with coffee.  This is where I was sent to get a loaf of bread or anything else we unexpectedly ran out of.  There was always a huge array of candy bars in front of the cash register.  And like the pretzel rods, these were much larger than the same ones today–and a LOT cheaper. This is where I stole my first and only piece of candy (a penny block of double-bubble) that left me scarred with guilt up until this very moment at which I am now confessing the crime committed.

When I was a young boy…Memories like these were abundant. Like just about everything in one’s time, there are events, and occurrences, and people that are no longer a part of your life.  Memories are all that’s left you.  I hope you have, or are, compiling your own collection.

*****

Posted in food, history, lifestyle, nostalgia | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

TO GRANDFATHER AND BEYOND!

Recently, I’ve  gone back over some of the books I’ve written in an attempt to fix some little things that have bothered me about each. It may be a typo or misspelling that somehow got past the proof reader (that would be me), or I just want to change a word here or there.  After I finish tidying up my last book, titled AGAIN, I plan to officially retire from the book writing endeavor and move on to researching my ancestry, before I’m a part of it.

I have dabbled in the family history before, but I never really devoted the time and effort it needs.  My niece Zoe has championed the cause rather extensively, at least on my mother’s side of the family.  But it’s my father’s ancestors who remain elusive.  I hope to change that despite the fact that I often felt my dad wasn’t eager for a background check.  He never talked about his family and the only relatives I ever met were my grandparents and his half-sister’s family.  But they were all “current” while anyone beyond them never entered the conversation. They weren’t even mentioned in any of the gabfests around the big round table in my Aunt’s kitchen when we occasionally consumed several bushel baskets of hard shell Maryland crabs. These had been harvested earlier off the dock in her backyard. Anyway, I intend to hunt them down, the ancestors, not the crabs. 

I will most likely begin my project with learning as much as I can about my grandfather.  That’s him looking quite dapper while holding up a pole somewhere in Baltimore.  I remember him reasonably well.  He died when I was in my early twenties but he remains today very much in my thoughts. That’s because he holds the family record for living the longest—it’s either 82 or 84. I have to check it because I am determined to break that record.  I have, so far, surpassed everyone in my immediate family but I still have another 5-plus years to go before I break my grandfather’s benchmark.

By the way, my father once warned that anyone who researched his family would find only horse thieves and little else.  Which reminds me, I do have a picture of my dad when he was about 3-4 years old … sitting on a pony.

*****

Posted in Family, history, nostalgia | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

TELEVISION, THE MESSAGE MOVES ON

Back in the late 1960’s, there was much to do about a media guru named Marshall McLuhan.  He birthed the phrase, the medium is the message.  If anything, it provided a new essay topic for college professors to assign their students.  McLuhan was referring to television more than anything else. Last week I was discussing the nicknames we give to specific generations.  I mentioned that I was assigned to a group of people called the Silent Generation.  Before me was the Greatest Generation and following me are the Baby Boomers. No wonder my peers and I were silent.  Nothing really definitive happened on our watch…except maybe television.  We should have been called the Television Generation.  McLuhan may have liked that. Here’s my case …

Based on the personal observation of a six-year-old (me), television didn’t arrive on the scene until the early 1950’s.  Sure, the technology was established before then, but as a mass medium, TV’s birth years began in the early ‘50’s.  I know, I was there.  There were few televisions in my post-war, middle class neighborhood.  But, once a new TV was unboxed and plugged in, well, that family had “arrived.” Then too, many of their neighbors arrived shortly thereafter to join the crowd in their living room that came by for a first-time looksee. 

Televisions, in the beginning, didn’t look anything like the huge wide-screen, high-definition monsters that we hang on our walls today.  Our first television had a screen about the size of a basketball and, of course, the picture was black and white.  Within ten years just about everything we did would revolve around the television.  What was on the television dictated when we ate, when we ran errands and when I did my homework.  As the TV screen grew, so did its intrusion into my life and everyone else’s.

There were only three channels initially, one for each of the three national networks: NBC, ABC and CBS.  True, larger markets may have had an additional independent or public channel, but they would have no impact until years later.  In the meantime, the nightly television schedule ruled.  I could instantly recite the evening program schedules of all three channels, Monday through Sunday. This was especially true in the 1960’s when evening television really “found itself.” These were the years that TV began understanding the sales potential of regularly scheduled weekly programming that was entertaining and brought back the same gigantic audience every week.  

Television went through phases when specific genre would overwhelm the programming.  There were fads like detective shows, comedy/variety, quiz shows and certainly not least were the westerns or the eventual evolution of sports.  Advertisers, meanwhile, grabbed hold of the new medium and quickly learned how to tremendously influence what we ate, brushed our teeth with, washed our clothes in, the kind of car we drove and the brand of cigarettes we smoked. 

Along with programming, the technology advanced as well.  In the late ’60’s the introduction of color television started the cycle all over again of keeping up with your neighbor.  Later, large flatscreens would do the same. So, it seems television had its discovery, growth, and most imfluential years during the span of my lifetime. Hence, I suggest replacing the Silent Generation with the Television Generation.  I rest my case.

What’s next?  For me, and I would guess for many others, it is not TV, at least as we know it.  Instead, it’s the cell phone, the laptop, the tablet and the smart watch.  The trend is well underway. These are the new toys we are spending our money on and our time with.  As they say, “times change.”  Indeed.  Last night I tried to remember the last time I turned on the TV with the intent of watching something … anything.  Couldn’t do it.  What was once the dominant medium in my life has become pretty much inconsequential. There is however, one remaining element that is common to all the current media: they all have a screen of some sort and that’s where people’s eyes and minds go when they need to communicate or be entertained, educated or enlightened. Dare I suggest this latest group of folks will become the Watchful Generation?                      

*****

Posted in communication, entertainment, environment, Family, home | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

OMG …THE SUBJECT IS LOVE!

I don’t know what got me started on this—well, actually I do.  It was YouTube, but hold that thought for a paragraph or two.

I do a lot of looking back lately.  I suppose that is natural when you reach the final years of your life. Oh, don’t get me wrong—I hope to be around a while yet. There is a line in a song called Bookends, by Simon and Garfunkel that wraps up one’s existence rather nicely:  “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” 

So I have lots of memories, both good and bad, but mostly in between those two ends.  This is probably the normal course we all take.  We experience highs and lows, but between them are the day-to-day events and happenings we treat as routine.  But I have learned this is not necessarily correct. 

My mother used to say, “Things that matter little, matter much.”   Likewise, things routine may be routinely unique. They are the building blocks of one’s life. Our attitude may be routine, but it is the foundation of our character.  Our character may be routine, but it is the formative element of our personality.  One thing builds upon another, constructing the colossal structure called “me!”  “Me,” as you well know, is complex and one “me” is never duplicated; no two “me’s” are ever alike. And this leads off to where I am going.  Count on me to never take the direct route.

I often get snagged into watching amateur videos on YouTube.  This Internet site is one of the truly beneficial media today.  There isn’t a topic you can’t find on YouTube, whether it’s an instructional video on how to replace the ice maker in your refrigerator, or the brakes on your car, or a bountiful menu of human interactions.  The latter present an endless stream of life’s happenings among all us “me’s.” These include personal videos of things like soldiers coming home unexpectedly and surprising their loved ones … or guys planning out and playing out their marriage proposals to their unsuspecting significant others … or the same couples a little later on announcing “we’re pregnant!” to their elated parents.  It’s all there—the tears, the smiles, the wide eyes … you know, all the routine stuff.

What surfaces from many of these recorded events running on YouTube, at least for me as I look back, are the special emotions and feelings that life assigns only to the young in love.  You can see it in their body language, how they look at each other and the things they say.  This special stage in one’s life features all kinds of unique feelings never to be duplicated again.  Sure, love can carry through endless years of a relationship, but it never again spins the inner sparkle that whirls around two young people who have newly discovered a friendship for each other that goes beyond–well, let’s just say beyond routine. There really are no words to describe it.  This feeling, however, is a memory that will be left, should you choose to preserve it.

*****

Posted in life, love, media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OUCH!

Pain, I’ve been told, is a good thing.  It is the body’s way of informing you that something is wrong. Well, I have gotten the message and it’s been painfully clear.

One late night in April of 2020, I fell asleep while sitting in my desk chair.  This was not unusual. I was probably busy doing something at the computer, maybe even writing a posting for this blog. I really don’t remember.  Anyway, being the restless sleeper that I am, I apparently changed the position of the chair from facing the desk to facing the empty floor behind me.  Still nothing unusual here, except that my weight must have shifted forward.  When this happens while the chair is facing the desk, as it often has, I usually wake up after I have fallen forward and planted my face in the keyboard.  Luckily, the letters rarely suffer any damage, nor I.  This time, however, the desk wasn’t there to break my fall—the hardwood floor was.  I awoke a nanosecond before I landed on my cheekbone.  When I came to my senses, most of them were gone.  I could not feel or move anything below my neck.  It was, needless to say, a horrifying experience.  Fortunately, it was not permanent.

To make a long, arduous story short, I am back on my feet, although walking with a cane, still in therapy and gulping down two loads of colorful pills every day.  While I have made tremendous progress recovering from my fall, there remains one constant: pain.  

I have a history of tolerating a high level of pain even to the extent that my dentist has volunteered to take a shot of Novocain in sympathy while I let him drill away at me teeth without any.  But this year’s been different.  It’s not so much the level of pain.  It’s the fact that it never goes away.  Among my many medical issues symptomatic of my age and surgeries, something is always hurting.  After a while, I admit, it wears you down. 

Mornings are especially challenging. Muscles and joints grow stiff while the body sleeps and they resist attempts to move when it’s time to get up. But looking on the bright side, opening my eyes in the morning and knowing I’ve been granted another day, well that gives me incentive to get bending.

The challenge of chronic pain is to learn to live with it.  Some people pop a lot of pain pills to get through the day.  Many of these folks become addicted, only adding to their suffering.   Others look to holistic alternatives for relief.  Some experiment, as I did with medical marijuana (no, it didn’t work for me). Still others trudge on, hoping some day the pain will simply go away.  I am in this latter group too.  I take an occasional pain pill but I am careful not to rely on them for everyday relief, which they don’t always provide anyway.

I sympathize with people who suffer with chronic pain.  It has the capability of taking all joy out of life and leaves you not only physically hurting, but emotionally exhausted.  Having experienced almost total paralysis, albeit for a short time, I look at my battle with pain as a much more manageable challenge.  I often think of the old joke about the guy who keeps banging his head with a hammer. He’s asked why and answers, “because it feels so good when I stop.”

*****

Posted in aging, death, health, medical | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE REWRITE…IT MAKES THINGS RIGHT

I am at a new stage of my so-called writing life.  I am RE-writing!  It’s true what they say about writing a book—you are never really finished with it.  No matter how many times you pick it up, you find something you want to change.

Writing a novel is a pretty daunting experience. “Daunting” was my first adjective of choice.  Others that crossed my mind were “unnerving,” “formidable” and “intimidating.”  They all apply.  Go ahead, write a novel and I think you will agree any of those words describes the process.

When I published AGAIN (yes, that’s the title of the book) three years ago, I declared it would be my last book.  I have written 11 since I retired back in 2008.  I would have never predicted that.  I hasten to say I have no expectation of ever seeing one of my books on the bestseller list.  This conclusion has nothing to do with low self-esteem or humility.  It is simply the fact that my books don’t get much publicity and I am willing to admit I am probably a pretty average wannabe novelist.  Other excuses: I got a late start doing all this; I haven’t studied the craft that much; I have attended only one writer’s conference and I haven’t read as many books as those young whipper-snappers on the amazon fast track.  

So what motivates me to spend hours pecking away on a keyboard?  While I am human and, of course, I would love to see one of my books stacked on a front table at B&N, I simply enjoy the writing process.  I have always liked projects, especially building things, despite my almost failing woodshop in middle school.  But writing a novel is like building.  You start with a foundation—the plot—and proceed from there, pounding the keys (the nails) until it all comes together and the doors open and close without squeaking.

The beauty of being an independent author/publisher, especially of books that hardly anyone has read, is that I can go back over my books and make changes that no one will notice.  Nowadays, with the convenience of the POD concept (print-on-demand) I can rewrite my books, fix any errors, change a word here and there or even do radical surgery.  There’s no one in the waiting room waiting, and if a reader does pick up a copy after the patient is rolled out of the recovery room with new parts, well, they won’t even feel guilty for not having sent a get-well card.  

So that’s what I am doing right now—playing doctor.  My first major effort writing a novel was THE POPE’S STONE.  For a first novel, it has been read by more people than any of my books.  That said, there was a theme to the criticism that several readers expressed.  Since the book deals with the parallel stories of two characters who live a century apart, some readers found it difficult to keep track of the when’s and where’s of the story line.  That was because I structured the book so that there was a constant back-and-forth from one character to the other.  This meant that the time periods also kept bouncing to-and-fro.  Readers got confused! 

THE POPE’S STONE, Second Edition has hardly any changes in text, but almost every chapter has been uprooted and repositioned.  This resulted in a revised, two-part book that makes a lot more sense and reads a lot more smoothly.  It was a challenge, but fun tearing down the book’s structure and rewelding it into a new floor plan.

Currently, I am finishing up a rewrite of AGAIN.  It’s a better book this time and given the unusual concept of the story, I am pleased with the adjustments I made.  Most of them were compliments of a rare, thorough editing of the book donated by a good friend.  It was a ton of work because he came in with a wrecking ball and smashed things up just about everywhere, leaving the book dripping with red ink.  Hopefully I mopped up everything and I won’t need to reread AGAIN…again.

*****

*****

Posted in Indie Publishing, self-publishing, WRITING | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

STUFF

Stuff #1

      I promised I would get back to you on the great diet pill caper that I discussed in my posting for May 8th (Been There Done Fat) … I was actually a little amazed that I lost about ten pounds in three weeks without making any major changes in my diet.  But that’s where it ended.  I started regaining the weight I lost and now I am pretty much where I was when I started taking the pill.  But I have to admit my birthday fell within this time period and well-wishers deposited a healthy (maybe not so healthy) supply of cakes, ice cream and chocolate into my lap…and that’s where it all wound up eventually–in my lap!  And, oh yeah, I guess the batch of chocolate chip cookies I made didn’t help the cause.  Summing up, I felt I didn’t give this initial bottle a fair chance (did someone say “fat chance?”).  After all, it started off with a bang.  So, I ordered a second bottle with the intent of following through a little better…stay tuned to this channel, as they say.

Stuff #2

Rosemarie and I are planning to relax our lifelong tendency to be frugal and wise.  We do have the attitude that if something disastrous were to happen, we really need to maintain some of our meager funds for that possibility.  But given the medical issues we’ve had the past year-and-a-half and the corresponding medical bills, our golden years are pretty much tin so far.  So we have decided to see how much it will cost to have some things around the house redone to make it nicer and us happier…sort of a self-reward for all our suffering.  Good rationale, huh?  The first of the things is the kitchen.  I hate our appliances; Rosemarie hates the cabinets.  With these in mind we stopped by one of those kitchen/bath remodeling stores to ooh n’ ahh at their inventory of impractical kitchen dreams.  We caught the salesperson on the eve of her vacation so she cannot come to our house for another week.  That means we have a while to go before we have any idea how much all this will cost.  This is a bad thing.  I like to act once I make a decision so I don’t have time to second-guess myself.  Funny, I keep hearing ca-chings every time I walk into the kitchen. 

Stuff #3

Every once in a while, we experience what has come to be called a Kodak Moment.  This is an event or some kind of occurrence that is picture perfect, wholesome, or just plain worthy of our appreciation and respect.  They are magical “ahh” moments!  Hallmark Cards puts them in greeting cards, Disney films them and Norman Rockwell drew them.  All that said, I have come to look forward to a Kodak Moment that occurs several times a week.  It’s going to sound strange, but the magic happens during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Baseball team, the Cubs.  I am a Cubs fan and even though I have never lived in Chicago, I have followed the Cubs faithfully since 2015. I subscribe to the streaming of their games on the internet, and I rarely miss one.   During the seventh inning stretch it is tradition at Wrigley for the fans to sing Take me Out to the Ballgame.  Usually, a celebrity of some sort leads them from the big screen in center field.  If not, the Cubs lovingly haul out a video of Harry Cary leading the fans from the distant past (pictured above).  Harry was the much beloved announcer for the Cubs the last 16 years of his radio/television career.  He died in ’98.  Now, while other teams also feature the singing of the quintessential ballad of baseball, Wrigley and Cary hold cathedral ranking when the holy moment of song is blessed by Cub fans.  I discovered the other night what makes the singing at Wrigley so magical.  With all the hostility in the world these days, it is truly an enchanted scene when there is unity, happiness, comradery, comfort and all kinds of other good feelings that seem to bring everyone together in a sense of commonality, if for only a minute or two.  While Kodak film has become a product of the past, at Wrigley there is still a Kodak Moment almost nightly throughout the summer … and each one is a homerun!

*****

Posted in diet, food, home, media, medical, nostalgia, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WRITE ON…

Today’s posting is a flat-out advertisement slash venting session. I admit that right away. I don’t want you to misread any hidden agenda on my part.  Since I retired from the radio biz, I’ve written and published eleven books.  I published the books myself because new technologies make it easy and inexpensive, plus you don’t have to sit around for several years collecting rejection letters from literary agents and big publishing houses.

The sacrifice I make for going the independent route is that I lose some of the “legitimacy” of being considered a real author—and maybe even a good one.  The book industry can be a bit snooty at times, though I sense independent authors are beginning to gain some respect despite our still residing below decks in steerage.  That said, it is up to me to do all my own promotion and marketing for my books.  This is no easy task…and a costly one to do it right.

Another loss in going it alone is even more important.  As a self-publishing author it is my burden to find good proof readers and editors to go through my books before they are published.  True, I’ve had a few friends help me out with some of my books, but hiring professionals is ultra-expensive and I simply cannot afford them.  Consequently, it is not unusual to find a mistake or two in my books.

Now, I have no delusions of grandeur.  I have never expected to become a best-selling author with books flying off the shelves in amazon’s warehouse.  Fact is, I sell very few—make that “hardly any.”  This is partly because my books get very little exposure or publicity.  A few family members and friends know my books exist.  Anyone else has to stumble upon them and be lured in by the cover or have interest in the subject matter.   Oh, did I mention the importance of the cover?  Well, that’s actually the topic for today’s posting.

If I were forced to single out any of my books as a favorite, I suppose I would select DEAD LETTER. Indeed, people who have read it have nice things to say about it…and many of them are people I do not know.  I designed the cover for this book, at least the concept, then I hired an artist to produce it.  I knew at the time that it could be an issue, but it portrays such a poignant scene in the story that I just couldn’t NOT go ahead and use it.  If you read the book you will more than likely agree.

The book is sold primarily on amazon.com.  It is such a remote find on amazon that it will show up only if you do a search for it by listing the book’s title ALONG with my name.  If you don’t add my name to the search you will simply get pages and pages and pages of book covers, many containing neither the word, “dead” or “letter.”  Why a search using keywords “dead” and “letter” does not find my book titled, DEAD LETTER yet finds many without those keywords will be a mystery to me no matter how many time I ask amazon and no matter how many times they try to explain something called an “algorithm.” 

Adding insult to injury, amazon rejects all my efforts to advertise and promote the book (even when I pay to advertise) because the book’s cover does not meet their standards.  What??!!  How can I advertise the book if I do not show the book’s cover?  Here’s the rub: amazon fully shows the cover of the book on its purchase page, but it rejects the cover showing up anywhere else.  The problem?  It’s the distant image of the back of a naked, middle-aged woman standing on the edge of a pier. There is no sexual connotation, certainly far less tame than many of the movies that amazon offers among its inventory.  One other interesting note:  DEAD LETTER is printed by Kindle Direct Publishing, an amazon company.

So there you have it—some of the trials and tribulations of an independent author/publisher. By the way, if you would like to learn more about DEAD LETTER, click on its trailer link to the right. If you would like to purchase the book, click on the cover illustration near the top of the right-hand column. And, If you are pursuing a career as an independent author, I offer you one little piece of advice about the cover of your book:  make no butts about it.

*****

Posted in Indie Publishing, self-publishing, WRITING | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE FISHING PIER, WHERE HOPE LIES ETERNAL

I am not much of a hunter.  Nope.  Couldn’t pull the trigger on Bambi let alone take down some huge African beast.  Fishing seems almost tolerable, although I still feel sorry for both bait and fish.  Ironically, I have salmon for dinner almost every week.  It is a bit hypocritical that I don’t quite connect the slaughter of an animal with the slick shrink-wrapped pound of hamburger I toss into my cart at the supermarket.

Speaking of fishing, that’s today’s topic.  Both my wife and my son love fishing.  Living a short distance inland from the Florida coast, you won’t find a fishing hole much better than the Gulf of Mexico and its inland waterways. I do not like to fish. It’s smells awful, it’s painfully boring and frustrating if the fish aren’t biting and when they are, I usually pull up something too small to be legal and the hook is stuck in the fish’s eye to boot.  Nah, fishing is not for me.  There is good salmon to be caught at the supermarket and it’s already been cleaned and fileted.

Despite all this, I go fishing much more than I wish to.  When Rosemarie goes fishing I usually schlep along.  First of all, I am a duty-bound husband who doesn’t like his wife traveling alone.  Secondly, see first.  So, I carry the bait bucket for her and a chair for me.  She fishes, I sit.  Like a kid in the back seat nagging “Are we there yet?” I am constantly asking if it’s time to go yet.  

One of the more favorable places we go fishing is the fishing pier.  I have spent a good portion of my life accompanying Rosemarie to a fishing pier.  There is one just a short drive from where we live.  It’s a phenomenal place for people-watching. With that in mind, I have made some observations: people go to the pier either to actually fish or sightsee.  There are more of the latter.  These are couples or whole families with grandma in tow.  The unexpressed goal is to walk out to the end of the pier.  This is the destination of just about everyone who sets foot on the pier.  It is here that the newly arrived will oooh and aaah at the glistening ocean water and the horizon off in the distance, then turn around and walk all the way back to the beach. Oops, almost forgot, this particular pier generates a crowd each evening and rewards it with the best seat on the water for sunset watching.

The other group of folks on the pier—including Rosemarie—have come for an entirely different reason.  These are church people.  To them, the pier represents the Cathedral of Hope.  In fact, I have found that the fishing pier truly envelopes the entire concept of hope.  Every person who walks its planks with rod in hand does so with impassioned hope and anticipation. They expect their efforts will result in a bountiful cluster of wiggling fish destined for the dinner table, accompanied with bragging rights.  It rarely happens.

On the fishing pier, hope lies eternal. As for the fish?  Well, the great majority swim away to live another day.  This is life on the fishing pier.  The people who engage its fantasy are exceptionally friendly and supportive of each other.  Bait and gear, and anything else for that matter, are readily shared.  Cheers and envy are exchanged if an actual fish is harvested successfully.  And when it is, motivation to fish on is stimulated and hope is heightened even more.

The fishing pier is host to, and nurtures, what is truly an exclusive angler’s society.  There is no entry fee or loyalty pledge needed…just rod and reel, a twitching shrimp as bait and the ever-optimistic anticipation and hope that this will be the day.  I am not a member. Eventually, I fold my chair, grab Rosemarie’s bait bucket and walk back to the car.  My hope is that the Dairy Queen we pass on the way home, will still be open.  

*****

Posted in fishing, social | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment