Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Some gave all

MemorialDay“It’s been a good day, Bubba. We started out with a ceremony honoring those who died while serving the country during wars both noble and ridiculous.”

That line comes from the first chapter of my latest book, “The Reporter and the Sloth,” which begins on Memorial Day. The lead character, JP Weiscarver, is talking to his pet ferret while watching for stars from the Oldport beach.

I wrote that on purpose, the part about some wars being noble and some ridiculous. War and conflict are much too prevalent among us humans. Sometimes, they prove necessary to combat a great evil. Sometimes, they are merely the result of greed and pride.

For those on the front line, however, the results are the same. Regardless of the motive for starting or entering a war, the effects will include dead, injured and psychologically damaged men and women.

On this special day, we in particular honor and remember those who answered the call, whether as a volunteer or a draftee, to serve their country with their very lives. Even in an ignoble war, we owe unreserved honor to those who paid the ultimate price.

May they all find a peaceful rest.

(The photo, by Stephen Smith, comes from the Arlington National Cemetery web site. It shows a Marine Corps bugler playing “Taps” during a funeral ceremony.)

Wait for it

As much as we may groan, something inside us takes pleasure in a bad joke.

Don’t confuse this with a dirty joke.

Boy 1: “Wanna hear a dirty joke?”

Boy 2: “Sure.”

Boy 1: “A white horse rolled in a mud puddle.”

Yeah, that’s what I mean by a bad joke.

Girl 1: “Wanna hear a knock-knock joke?”

Girl 2: “Sure.”

Girl 1: “OK, you start.”

Girl 2: “Knock-knock.”

Girl 1: “Who’s there?”

Girl 2: “Uh…”

My wife and I caught up with an old friend last week, a woman we haven’t seen in more than 15 years. This woman is incredibly intelligent and so good at her work that she was able, a few years ago, to tell her employers she would begin working from home online instead of driving into the city and they were glad to agree to anything to keep her happy. (May not be an exact portrayal of how events played out, but I’m sure it’s close.)

Friend: “You wanna hear my favorite joke?”

Me: “Sure.”

It may help to know she was giggling so much she was having trouble talking.

Friend: “What do you call a fish with no eye?”

Me: “Uh, it doesn’t matter what you call it, the fish won’t come to you.”

Friend: “No,” followed by more giggling.

Me: “I give up. What do you call a fish with no eye?”

Friend: “Fsh!”

That’s your cue, dear reader. Tell us a bad joke.

Bladder not pleased with Virginia

Don’t take it personally, Commonwealth of Virginia, but my bladder wasn’t exactly pleased with our brief visit.

I’ve explained to my bladder that it shouldn’t apply its discontent to the totality of the state and certainly not to its inhabitants and I remain confident all will be forgiven and the bad memories will pass.

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Glance at Aprils past

Since early December, I’ve been tweeting each day a quick note on something that happened on that date in the past. Here is a compilation of April events. To keep up with them in real time, use the link in the right column to follow me, smartaindale, on Twitter.

April 1: In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed a measure banning cigarette advertising on radio and television, to take effect after Jan. 1, 1971.

April 2: In 1968, the science-fiction film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, had its world premiere in Washington D.C.

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Take a chance

Take a Chance DayApril 23 is National Take a Chance Day, according to NationalDayCalendar.com, where the notice urges:

“On this day, take a chance on your dreams and your goals. Mark Twain once said ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowline, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’”

The timing is particularly poignant for me as my wife and I are setting out today for our third summer living our dream.

It began in 2013 living and working in Yellowstone National Park. Following a fantastic experience there, the temptation was great to return there the next year, but our dream was to keep moving, exploring and discovering.

Last summer was spent in Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This summer, we’re shuffling things a bit, working in a theme park in upstate New York.

Many people – some old friends and a great number of tourists with whom we interact while on our adventures – have said something like, “I would love to do what you’re doing,” but we know most of us get too comfortable in the day-to-day to take a chance. And that’s not necessarily bad; it’s what many really want.

We talked for some time about our dream and whether we could or should pursue it. Then, in the fall of 2011, I had a tumor successfully removed from my bladder and we took that as a sign to move forward. We drastically downsized our lifestyle, my wife retired from teaching as soon as she was eligible and we took a step off the cliff.

If you have a yearning to try a new career, to change what you’re doing with your life, to travel, to … whatever … what better time to start working on it than National Take a Chance Day?

It doesn’t have to be put into effect today (though it could) but start planning. Set a deadline.

Be sure and let us know what you want to do.

Best wishes

Earth Day

Do cheaters win?

Does the name Jacqueline Gareau ring a bell?

What about Rosie Ruiz?

Their names are tied together in history, but I’m betting many more of you recognize the latter name. I know that’s true of me.

On this date in 1980, 35 years ago, Jacqueline Gareau won the Boston Marathon in record time, though that fact was not acknowledged for another week because Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line first. While Ruiz still maintains she ran the entire race, officials determined she somehow left the course and sprinted back into competition near the finish line.

The point here, though, is not to argue the facts of the race but to question what we remember and why.

Gareau was awarded the win in record time. Ruiz was labeled a cheater, yet her name is arguably the better known today.

Am I right and, if so, what does that mean?

Then what happened?

We were dining in a Whataburger (a wonderful fast-food franchise popular in the south) the other day and my attention was drawn to a table of four old-timers … meaning they were even older than me.

One of the three guys was particularly loud and I eventually figured out why. He was talking on his cell phone.

Now, talking on a cell phone in a restaurant is one of those particularly unpopular things that people like to fuss about. To be honest, I have no problem with it if you can talk in a normal voice and, let’s face it, the fast-food environment is not the same as a high-end establishment.

This guy, however, was making a nuisance of himself and I finally saw why. He had the phone on speaker and had placed it on the table. His business was so important he wanted everyone to know what he was doing.

We hear of an aging person’s “second childhood,” that point in decreasing mental abilities where one behaves more like a child. The fellow at Whataburger caused us to wonder if maybe second childhood is preceded by second “teenhood” in the aging process.

You know how some teens just assume everyone wants to hear their music or an amazing story about what happened last night when so-and-so went out with so-and-so.

Have you made any observations of second teenhood?

Perhaps I should apply for a grant to study this theory.

Get your ‘Penguin’ while it’s hot

NOTE: THIS OFFER HAS NOW EXPIRED.

So, you want one of my paperbacks for a bargain. Yeah, personalized, autographed and mailed to you in the United States for a mere $7. Act now and we just might make it happen. Why? When I publish a new book, I order several for promotional use, etc. For a reason I no longer remember, I bought quite a few more of “The Reporter and the Penguin.”

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Explain this to me

Pinterest_Badge_RedWhat is it I’m missing about Pinterest?

Judging from all the excitement I hear from others, there’s something I’m not doing right.

So … hit up the comments box and educate me. And, if it helps, my Pinterest handle is smartaindale.

Thanks.

No more pets?

bison on roadI was invited, a couple of years ago, to meet with a book club to talk about my first book. I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t thinking it would be about my bio on the back of the book.

Near the end, it says, “He and his educator wife, Leah, have one daughter, a son-in-law, a grandson and absolutely no more pets.” The question was about the “absolutely no more pets” part.

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March in history

Since early December, I’ve been tweeting each day a quick note on something that happened on that date in the past. Here is a compilation of March events. To keep up with them in real time, use the link in the right column to follow me, smartaindale, on Twitter.

March 1: In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps.

March 2: In 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico.

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Stick ’em up

This is something I’ve seldom talked about, but I was mugged once.

I don’t want to overdramatize this because I was not hurt and lost the most minimal amount of money. More than anything, I was embarrassed.

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Oops!

Leah on Roman stage in Cartagena 10-21-14See my wife in the photo? No? It was taken last fall at the ruins of a Roman stage in Cartagena, Spain. She’s right there center-stage, but I could barely see her and couldn’t hear a word. Such is the feeling I have right now.

First, a commercial message I will explain later: My latest book is available in paperback and Kindle. You can get either by first clicking here.

The explanation: Artists are notoriously bad at marketing. No secret there. So it’s no great surprise I made a serious tactical error when my latest book was released week before last.

This became clear in the past 24 hours as several people asked if the book “The Reporter and the Sloth” was available. See the problem? These are people who obviously wanted the book but had not heard it was out. Man, this shyness problem of mine is killing me.

Commercial break No. 2: Want to know a little more about the book? Click here.

Seriously, I sometimes have to remind myself the overriding purpose of this blog is to give exposure to my books. I mean, this is my retirement plan. Sure, I want to write about all kinds of things and I will, but the book message must come up occasionally. Bear with me.

Commercial break No. 3: This is my fourth book in the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series. Read more about each by clicking the “Steve’s Books” tab at the top. All are for sale through Amazon by clicking here. Also, your favorite book store should be able to order a paperback for you.

And tell your friends. You can see I need the help.

Howdy from 2031

I just received an email from myself. The date on it is Feb. 4, 2031, so it’s almost 16 years from now:

“Howdy, Me the Younger. This is Future You attempting to take advantage of a predicted anomaly in solar flares, sun spots and the position of Mars in relation to Jupiter. I don’t know, but supposedly I might be able to slip out an old-fashioned email so it is delivered to me … uh, you … approximately 15 years earlier.

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I don’t need anything

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????Growing up, we often heard from grandparents that they “don’t need anything,” making it difficult to shop for them and causing us to think they’re just saying that for some reason.

And then, with a little luck, we get to the point where our actual needs are well enough satisfied. Sure, the house isn’t made for a movie star and the vehicle doesn’t turn heads. Our clothing purchases are based more on comfort than style. One day, however, we realize we really don’t need anything.

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Psst, it’s here

In case you missed it, my new book is out.

For a little tease and links to paperback and Kindle copies, check out this page inside.

Live and learn

snake in water“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

I came across these words from Amelia Earhart this morning. While I agree, there’s one other path worth mentioning.

Many and many a year ago, I was working at a very small newspaper, The Brenham Banner-Press in Central Texas, and picked up a lesson I’ve often applied in life. At that time, not many newspapers printed what was called process color, where color images are separated into cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). It involves running the sheet of paper through four different presses, each applying one of the colors.

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Take a hike

Prior to the release of “The Reporter and the Sloth,” we had a little fun on JP Weiscarver’s Facebook page (which is one reason you should like his page … you’ll find a link in the right column). Since the bulk of the book takes place on a hiking trail, JP invited readers to share a hiking photo, or at least an outdoor photo. There were no other rules, but I said I would award a free book to whoever “moved me” the most with his or her photo. So, the winner is:

RussellandScarlet Raborn - Hawksbill Crag, Ponca, ArkansasThis was submitted by RussellandScarlet Raborn, taken at Hawksbill Crag near Ponca, Arkansas. Why did this move me? It is the essence of hiking. Hitting the trail gives one an opportunity to get places nobody else can. The bonus is when it’s also an amazing view. Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

Other entries included:

Naomi Zweben Hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, Turkey             Jennifer Green Embt‎ - Snoozing sea lions, Auke Bay, Alaska  Kimberly Condie one of Wyoming - a great view from a mountain we climbed last summer. Read more of this post

Springing and falling

We’ve had a few days to adjust to daylight-saving time, so do you feel better about it? To be honest, because of my weird sleeping habits, it never affects me.

While I have no problem adjusting to clock changes, I find them absurd in this day and age. But I wouldn’t stop at eliminating time changes; I wish to do away with time zones altogether.

Their origin made sense, but with today’s worldwide connectivity, they are a hassle. Set the whole world on one time (and on a 24-hour clock since a.m. and p.m. would no longer fit most places) and let us get used to that change one time and not have to rock our worlds twice a year.

Then, if you tell Grandma you’ll call her at 18:00 while you’re on vacation, neither of you have convert time zones. Same applies to online business meetings and airplane schedules.

And it gives us two fewer things to complain about every year.

‘A little help?’

NOTE: This event has already happened, so don’t bother trying to sign up. We made our goal, however; thanks to all who helped.

“A little help?” Make sure you read it with the question mark. What it immediately brings to mind for me is warming up on a baseball or softball field and an errant throw gets past a player who calls out to another player near the ball: “A little help?”

That is, “Please throw the ball back to me.”

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Did you say ‘free book’?

NOTE: This offer has passed, but there will be more for the next book …. stay tuned.

Would you like one of the first copies of “The Reporter and the Sloth” … FREE?

Sloth coverHere’s the deal. Much of the “Sloth” story takes place on a hiking trail (Did you figure that out from the cover?) near Oldport. For an opportunity to receive a personalized, autographed paperback, create a post on JP Weiscarver’s Facebook page that includes a photo you took in the great outdoors.

If you’re not familiar with JP Weiscarver, where have you been? He is the lead character in my book series and he has his own Facebook page. Go there, like the page and then post your photo.

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‘I am so proud of you’

When was the last time someone told you they were proud of you? Or some recent time? Or any time?

Dwell on that a minute. Pick out one in particular, one in which you more vividly recall the way it made you feel.

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Rob Reiner

Friday Flick logoToday is the 68th birthday of Rob Reiner, which is reason enough to feature one of Meathead’s movies this week.

Films he’s directed that I’ve given eight or more stars include “The Princess Bride,” “Misery,” “The Bucket List” and “A Few Good Men.” Let’s go with the 1992 drama featuring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore and concentrate on two good men.

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Coming soon

Sloth coverHere’s a sneak peek of the cover for the fourth book in the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series.

Release of “The Reporter and the Sloth” has been scheduled for the first day of spring, March 20, 2015.

Who thinks we should have some sort of promotional giveaway? Give me some ideas.

‘Reign Over Me’

Friday Flick logoThe route to this week’s topic took me from “Zookeeper,” recently airing on television, and through various Adam Sandler comedies, most of which I’ve enjoyed even if they might not be great cinema.

After wading through all of that, I picked another Adam Sandler movie, his coming-out-of-the-comedic-comfort-zone performance in “Reign Over Me.”

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A heads-up

be there or be square“Be there or be square.” Does one still say that today?

Regardless, here is a bit of a heads-up that you might want to keep an eye on JP Weiscarver’s Facebook page today.

If you’re new around here or haven’t explored my books yet (you know, like the “Steve’s Books” tab at the top of this page), JP Weiscarver is the lead character of my “The Reporter and…” series. He has his own FB page and you really should be following it.

If you haven’t done so already, go to the column on the right of the page and look for a line that says, “Follow JP Weiscarver on Facebook.” Read more of this post

‘We got cows’

Friday Flick logoSome movies come along that are just plain ol’ fun, but to thoroughly enjoy them one must be willing to embrace or, at least, put aside concerns about accuracy and believability.

Let’s face it, there are scenes in “Twister” (1996) that you and I both know just couldn’t happen the way they’re depicted. At the very least, having a string of such improbable events pushes it past the level of acceptance.

Unless …

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Series finales

The MentalistI just noticed the series finale of “The Mentalist” airs tonight (last two new episodes at 8 and 9 Eastern on CBS). Thursday night is the finale of “Two and a Half Men.”

Tell us your favorite (or top three, four or five) series finales.

Mine are “Newhart” and “Barney Miller.”

Spoiler Alert!

To understand the finale of “Newhart,” which aired 1982-1990, you really needed to have also watched “The Bob Newhart Show” from 1972-1978.

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Magic time

amwritingIt’s amazing how sometimes one struggles in the writing process to put a clear thought into a single paragraph and at other times the words seem to force their way out of one’s fingertips.

Suffice it to say things are rolling along in the writing of “The Reporter and the Sloth.”

Stay tuned.

Valentine’s Daze

Friday Flick logoIt’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, so this week’s Friday Flick must be about love … I believe it’s a law.

To be completely honest, I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day fan because it diminishes the importance of love the remaining 364.25 days a year. We all know it’s a Hallmark holiday and the only reasons so many people participate at the high-dollar level they do are fear and peer-pressure.

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Love, don’t hate

Feel free to share.

Feel free to share.

Let’s keep this simple.

Love, don’t hate.

Whom should you love instead of hate?

African-American. Agnostic. Atheist. Blue-collar worker. Buddhist. Business owner. Care-giver. Child. Christian. Civil rights activist. Coffee Partier. Conservative. Democrat. Divorced. Employed. Empty nester. Firearms owner. Former spouse. Gay. Gun control advocate. Hindu. Home owner. Immigrant. Independent. Jew. Latino. Law enforcement officer. Lesbian. Liberal. Libertarian. Married. Mormon. Muslim. Native. Native American. Non-sinner. Orphan. Parent. Patient. Poor. Progressive. Pro-lifer. Protestant. Protester. Redneck. Renter. Republican. Retiree. Roman Catholic. Single. Sinner. Spouse. Straight. Tea Partier. Unemployed. Veteran. Wealthy. White. Women’s rights advocate. Yankee.

And anyone who doesn’t fit any of these categories.

Any questions?

Friday Flick: “Message in a Bottle”

Friday Flick logoI struggled with what movie I should start this series. I’ve long proclaimed “Casablanca” as my favorite of all time, but I didn’t want to begin there. I decided to browse through my eight-star films and “Message in a Bottle” caught my eye.

The 1999 release starring Kevin Costner and Robin Wright and notable guest star Paul Newman didn’t fare that well among critics and reviewers. Even IMDb users haven’t been very generous. At the time of my rating, it stood at 5.7 stars but has since climbed to 6.1.

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Let’s talk movies

Real quick poll … Just for fun, I plan to post something on my blog once a week about one of my favorite movies, a different film each week. Each will be short – something I liked about it, a special memory, some fun fact, etc. – and cover most genres and all decades of movie-making. Now, here’s the first problem … what to call it.

Comment below with one of the following:

1, Friday Flick

2, Flick Friday

3, Film Friday

4, Movie Memories

Voting has closed; Friday Flick was the winner.

‘We’re No. 1′

USA USA USAThe United States should be No. 1 in everything.

We hear some version of that from politicians and pundits all of the time. Good ol’ red-blooded American boys and girls sing out their praises of the homeland. It’s the greatest country on the planet. Those of us born here obviously deserve all of the richness of this wonderful, God-blessed land.

Can I get an amen?

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If I were coach …

We are 10 days away from the end of the 2014 football season, Super Bowl XLIX, (A side note: will we be disappointed with next year’s logo for Super Bowl L?) and this seems like as good a time as any to present my football coaching philosophy.

Admit it, we all say it or think it, “If I were the coach, I’d…”

Discipline

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Long and short of it

They’re no longer teaching longhand in school, I’m told, or soon will cease. Some people are aghast at the idea youngsters today are not learning the same things we did; I, however, have no problem with that.

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New post inside

A new post has gone up under the Behind the Pages tab. Click here to go straight to it.

Is sleeping optional?

ZzzzzzJust one more example, perhaps, that I’m a bit weird … I really don’t enjoy sleeping.

I realize it’s necessary, good for you, helps you live longer … blah, blah, blah. Similar things are said about vegetables and I’m not overly fond of them, either.

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Fall back; regroup

Windmill Tilting    I made a decision last night to lay off trying to change the world through social media.
For decades, I’ve shouldered the task of addressing innumerable topics within newspaper editorials and my personal columns. On occasion, I have done the same from my Facebook and Twitter accounts. No longer do I intend to expend any more energy than liking, sharing or commenting on posts. (That’s the plan, anyway.)
Am I giving up?

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