The Locke Report: A Chat with Iain!!

The spotlight is being shined on the extremely talented, industrious, and all-around good guy, Iain Donnelly. Iain is the author of two sensational novels set in Cambodia as well as other interesting tales. They have gained him a bit of fame in the expat world of Southeast Asia and all the accolades are well-deserved. In addition to a fondness for the pen, he has, much like yours truly, the entrepreneurial spirit. Perhaps because of this I look at Iain as a kindred spirit. Two Celtic blokes who, for various reasons, have put down roots in this phenomenal if often overlooked corner of the globe. I’ll list the links you can find Iain at the end of the interview.

 

How does being Scottish define you?

Now that’s an interesting question. First of all, thanks for inviting me onto the blog, Thom. It’s always a good read, even when I don’t understand some of the sporting references!

I suppose I better state from the outset that I support independence but do not see myself as a ‘rabid’ nationalist. I do believe that we, as a nation, have a right to self-determination in the modern world. But I would say that I think, for now, the question needs to be shelved till we see how much of a mess Brexit causes. I hate when people make it a Scottish v English thing. I see it more as dissatisfaction with the Westminster government, and that dissatisfaction is felt in several regions of England too, so nationality, for me, is not a factor.

I feel there is a huge gulf between the idea of ethnic nationalism, which is of course a very negative thing, and civic nationalism, which I see as very positive and inclusive. Civic nationalism was espoused by some of the great early liberal thinkers like John Stuart Mill, and where ethnic nationalism has xenophobia as an intrinsic part of its values, civic nationalism celebrates inclusivity and diversity while opposing any form of bigotry or exclusion. I have always seen Scotland as being a great melting-pot of cultures; we’ve had Italian immigrants in the late 19th century who to this day run the best ice-cream shops and chip shops in the country, we’ve had Polish warships guarding Glasgow in World War II with many sailors choosing to settle there when peace came, and in relatively more recent times we have had immigrants from South Asia, some of whom are now third generation. Chicken Tikka Masala was even invented in an Indian restaurant in Glasgow by a Pakistani chef – it doesn’t get much more multi-cultural than that! So that makes me proud to be Scottish, being from a country that has accepted so many nationalities and made them feel at home, and which has continued to welcome refugees to this day. There’s also a sense of how much, for a country of (now) some 5 million people, we have given to the world. Churchill said: “’Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.” I could list some of them but that would take another two blogs!

So, for me, being Scottish is nothing to do with the Walter Scott romanticism you see on shortbread tins with windswept Highland pipers in full kilt regalia, but more about a sense of pride in who we are as a collective people, no matter our parental/genetic roots. How it defines me is a complex thing to describe. I feel I have the stubbornness many Scots show, a love of good whisky, and, of course, a skill for imaginative profanity unsurpassed by any other nation on the planet.

Why did you decide to leave the nest?

2011 was a particularly shitty year. My mum was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer in June and went from being a very sprightly pensioner (who was part of the massive Scottish Country Dancing display at the Edinburgh Tattoo every year) to someone I hardly recognised and who could only move from her chair with assistance. I was commuting to my job – itself with high stress levels – a round trip of just over 60 miles every day, having a quick shower and something to eat, then commuting another round trip in the opposite direction of around 80/90 miles to spend time with her at home or hospital. I was doing this 6 or 7 days a week, my stress levels were through the roof, and I couldn’t even seek solace in a bottle due to the amount of time I was driving. She passed on Xmas Day, 2011, and one of the last things she had said to me, a few days before, was to go back to Asia and make a life there. It took a good few months to settle affairs at home and put things into storage, but finally made the move in September of 2012.

It is a big world; you chose to land in S.E. Asia. Tell us about your journey to this side of the world.

It’s the part of the world I knew better than anywhere else except home. Europe was not an option as the swing towards right wing politics was already apparent. I also had a large network of friends in Bangkok, so it seemed an obvious choice. The plan was to get a condo in Bangkok and get that first novel finished and out there. The reality was heading off on adventures around Asia or plunging head-first into Bangkok’s murky cesspools.

Why Cambodia?

I felt Bangkok wasn’t for me, too many hedonistic temptations that were constantly distracting me from doing any writing. I went to visit a friend and her boyfriend in Sihanoukville and thought the beach life would be the perfect antidote to the big city and would also let me finish the book, which it did.  I had a year there and then moved to Phnom Penh for work.

Phnom Penh has a bit of a Wild West feel to it. What have been your impressions?

I’d disagree. The whole wild west thing has disappeared in the main cities, though you can still experience it out in the provinces. When you do find it, it’s a good thing, that rawness and an almost brutal honesty about the people and places. The days of shootouts on the streets of Phnom Penh have been consigned to the pages of books now. It may not have the cosmopolitan glamour of Bangkok, but there is a creeping sophistication evident as you ride the city streets. Coffee shops, art galleries, chic boutiques, and trendy bars are everywhere now.

The biggest issue is that infrastructure has not kept pace with other developments, so you have first world condominiums and third world drainage, a marriage that is not made in heaven, especially in rainy season. And driving on the roads at rush hour is still akin to being in the middle of a motorcycle display team while on a massive dose of LSD. Even the other main cities are changing rapidly. Sihanoukville is being gradually taken over by the Chinese, and Siem Reap just gets nicer every time I visit.

There is a feeling that Phnom Penh is losing its identity somewhat, as concrete and steel replaces traditional buildings, but I also think that in recent years the people are rediscovering their own identity. The last 3 or 4 years have seen a wonderful resurgence in the arts, both contemporary and traditional, and I feel there is a strong creative spirit in a lot of young Cambodians for sure. While many have concerns about next year’s elections, there is also a very strong feeling of hope and optimism.

And, of course, the whole country provides wonderful material for a writer.

Now you have relocated to Kampot. How has the move been?

It’s like swapping a ride on the Maglev train for a lazy boat ride up-river. Getting out of the city has been fantastic and I would definitely say it’s helped with my work rate. The town is small enough that you can get anywhere within 10/15 minutes, but there is still a lot of choice as far as restaurants etc. go. It can be quite amusing watching the various low season ‘wars’ going on between the expat businesses though. So far we have had burger wars, pizza wars, and fish and chips wars. It’s not really a town for night owls; most places shut around midnight, though there are a couple of places upriver for the clubbers, and in town there is Couch Potatoes for sport and Oh Neil’s usually stays open till the last punter staggers out.

There’s also a strong artistic vibe to the town. We have at least two authors, a few painters and photographers, two great arts organisations (Epic and KCDI), plenty of live music and events, and of course we have the inaugural Kampot Arts Festival in January. I’m Chairperson of the organising committee and am really excited about what we as a team have put together. It’s a real celebration of Cambodian arts and artists and I really think it will contribute a lot to the community. We have around 30 acts over 4/5 days, including Sovannaphum Theatre Shadow Puppets, Kong Nay, Chaktomuk Short Film Festival, Kosal Khiev (who was also in Mekong Shadows), Tiny Toones, and many others. And on the Sunday we have our big finale concert featuring some of the best music acts from across Cambodia. Krom are headlining and we also have Nikki Nikki, Sam Rocker, Smiley Band, Kampot Playboys, and much more. I think it’s shaping up to be the best event on the annual calendar.

You are a writer and an entrepreneur; tell us about your various ventures.

I set up Saraswati Publishing last year for a number of reasons. Publishing my own books was of course one reason, but I also saw an opportunity to not only publish books by other expats but also to give a platform to emerging Cambodian writers. I realised that the margins were always going to be small, so decided to use my previous magazine experience here to offer services to the vibrant corporate sector. I have an amazing designer working with me – a Brazilian-Iranian occultist of all things, surely a great idea for a character – so we offer a range of services; content writing, digital audits and digital marketing consultancy, proofreading and editing, design work, and of course publishing. We’re currently working on an interesting vanity project; a limited edition coffee table book to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Van’s Restaurant in Phnom Penh, the favourite haunt of Special Agent Fengler. But we have also done some design work for Sofitel, and various other projects for premier clients. I’m also editing Brian Gruber’s forthcoming biography of the legendary jazz drummer, Billy Cobham, and that could lead to a series of jazz biographies on a Saraswati sub-imprint.

On the books side, there are several in the pipeline for the next year. There is the final part of my own Angkor trilogy – Angkor Cloth, Angkor Gold – which although the last adventure from Chamreun, does introduce a new character, Sophie Chang, who will feature in her own set of novels. We also have two anthologies coming out which will only have Cambodian writers in them; Churning of the Ocean of Milk will be the English volume, and Ko Samut Teuk Dos the Khmer one.   There’s a great book coming from a Khmer journalist, Ek Madra, which covers the period here from 1989 onwards, part love story and part observation of life in a Cambodia emerging from chaos. On a wild tangent, I am currently looking for sponsorship for a children’s book I have written, one with potential for not only a series, but translation to various other languages in the region. The series will focus on literacy, English skills, and a strong environmental education message too. The illustrator I have on board is just amazing and drew the characters just as I saw them in my head. (see pic). And lastly, for now at least, there will be a quartet of interlinked novellas from Phillip Coggan in the first half of 2018.

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I was quite honored to be asked to contribute to Mekong Shadows: Tales from Cambodia. Tell us about this project and the good work it is helping to fund.

We were honoured to have you, and the other contributors, on board, so thanks again. I really liked having a cameo part in your story! I had re-read the fantastic Phnom Penh Noir earlier this year, edited of course by the talented Christopher G. Moore. Though it was a very daunting pair of shoes to fill, I really wanted to do an updated version but with some subtle changes. I wanted to get a couple of unpublished Cambodian writers in the book, and I also thought it would be nice if all profits went to a good cause. I then had a meeting with Mark Bibby Jackson, fellow author and also publisher of AsiaLIFE, and also Marissa Carruthers, editor of AsiaLIFE Cambodia. It was Mark who suggested Khmer Sight as the beneficiary, which I shall return to later, and also agreed to partner in the competition to find two new writers. What was a pleasant shock was the ages of the majority of entrants; nearly all of them were under 20. Our two winners, both girls, were 18 and 15, and showed a lot of talent for their age. Vorsnar Ses, at 15, came second, and with some time could be a good writer. Our winner, Voleak Phan, has a real talent, and hopefully we will see more from both in the anthologies next year. I am obviously    biased, but I think it is a well-balanced anthology with something for everyone.

Back to Khmer Sight. Though there have been great improvements in the last ten years, cataracts are still a huge problem across Cambodia. Statistics from 2014 showed that around 5% of the population over five years old had varying degrees of sight impairment. Khmer Sight unified ophthalmology and eye care across the Kingdom and not only have doctors and nurses visiting from abroad to donate their time and skills, but also send students abroad so that, one day, the service will be self-sufficient. The big shock for me was finding out that each operation only costs $40. That’s an amount many of us wouldn’t think twice about spending in a restaurant, but in this case it could mean restored sight for someone.

 

Finally, what is in the future?

In an ideal world, getting Saraswati to the point where we have staff to do all the little work, a team of editors to spread across the books, and our titles selling outside of Cambodia. I would love to see Cambodian literature being recognised outside of the country, and I mean books about subjects other than the Khmer Rouge era. I believe   there is a huge pool of talent here, and that they have diverse stories that need to be heard.

If all that could happen, I could slow down a little and just concentrate on my writing and enjoying this beautiful town I Iive in.

Thank you Iain for your insight into what is an exciting career and life journey. I look forward to continuing our friendship and am excited for what your pen has in store for us in the future. Iain’s pen name is Steven W. Palmer and his works can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Steven-W-Palmer/e/B00EOWTPVK

 

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The Locke Report: What You Can Say & Where You Can Say It!!

We live in a world of instant reactions, hot takes, & emojis. Feelings don’t really count anymore. Well, unless yours were hurt in which case you were bullied and well you now have your own little piece of victim-hood. Feel free to lash out.

But be careful. For example, Jemele Hill is a columnist/radio show host for ESPN. Actually, she is a quite accomplished lady of color. Talented, articulate, and with a pleasant demeanor, she takes to the airwaves to opine on sports. On Twitter, apparently, she becomes more political. Recently she accused Trump of being a White Supremacist. Pretty strong words. And people have been fired for less. Curt Schilling for example. A conservative, the former MLB star voiced his conservative viewpoints and was subsequently let go. Fair enough in my opinion. ESPN is a sports network and they stated that they wanted to stick to sports. Jemele Hill is still gainfully employed. Why the different approach? Well, ESPN is not shy about its left leanings. And, faced with declining ratings, they did not want to kick the hornet’s nest and offend the black community. Again, fair enough. Jemele knew her bosses were sympathetic to her viewpoint.

A lawyer for CBS also made her opinion known about the victims of the tragic Las Vegas shooting the other day. On FB, she stated that ‘she had no sympathy for the victims as they were Country Music fans and probably supported the NRA.’ I paraphrase but the gist is clear. She was quickly canned. CBS is an old school operation, quite middle-of-the-road, and does not brook that type of loose tongue. Now maybe, probably in fact, if this lawyer worked for MSNBC she would still have her corner office. Rachel Maddow may even be applauding her brave cutting edge stance.

Know your audience! Which brings me to Trump and his comments on the protests in the NFL. “Those SOB’s” are red meat for his core constituency. This was win-win for a politician who can only survive one way. That is to divide, inflame, & barely cut out a plurality. And the NFL players, ‘those sob’s’, took the bait.

Trump knows his audience. The NFL did not. Well, the players truly don’t, and the owners lost sight of it for a weekend. In response the owners, the coaches, & the players came together to show a sense of unity, to show that the protest against the flag and the anthem are legitimate. This is fine. A unified front against a President who seems to agree with the social oppression these players are protesting clearly should not be so controversial. Makes for good press. And it was roundly applauded.

But the Press does not pay player salaries. The Press does not purchase seats. The Press does not buy season full access passes via DirectTV. The Press does not purchase advertisements during games. The Press does not turn on that TV. Starting to get the picture.

That’s right, know your audience. Let’s look at some of the fallout. Season tickets and attendance have been down since the beginning of last year. That means fewer $100 parking fees, fewer $10 Miller Lights, fewer $8.50 Hot Dogs. The TV audience has decreased steadily if slightly over the past few years. That means the NFL had to refund some advertising fees last year. Look at the advertising during the games and it is easy to see the commercials trend toward an upper class white male audience. The new BMW rolling nicely through a UMC town to a mid-70’s ELO hit is probably not geared towards Mr. Bus Pass slugging down a 16 oz. Old Milwaukee. You get the picture. Oh, and fans are now lining up to get their $280 refund from DirectTV. This is protest as well.

And there are more direct examples. Von Miller is a fantastic D End for the Broncos. Wish he were on my team. Seems like a nice intelligent young man as well. Von is down with the cause. And we can respect him for that. He is using his constitutionally protected right to free speech and non-violent protest. Von was also the lead spokesman for a giant Colorado car dealership. They paid him $200,000 a year along with a free sweet ride for both him and his wife. Von ain’t pitching cars anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first thing Mrs. Miller said when her car was being pulled away was: “Stand the fuck up, Von.” So, if I support Von’s rights and even his message, I also support the business’ right to the bottom line.

Our parents gave us good advice when we were young. “There’s a time and place for everything,” my Mom would often say. So, as we all tread through this new age, try to know where you are, who you work for, who you are talking to, and try and craft a message that will work in the moment and, more importantly, one you can be comfortable with down the road.

Peace! I’m out!!

The Locke Report: October Edition

Lager

 

Long time no see! Been a while since a Locke Report has hit the shelves but, well, let’s just say I have been uber-busy. That is a good thing!

And it brings me to my first topic. Reinvention! The world we live in today is highly competitive and I am grateful that I am a man for my times. I’m not in this game to survive. Thrive is my aim and objective. And through my N.U. Test Prep. Center & T. Hunt Locke Independent Publishing I have been doing a fair job over the past decade.

But over the past few years I have been focused on expansion. And I am pleased to announce I have finally come upon a vehicle to facilitate this goal. The Center for Professional and Academic English (CAPE) has just been launched. This is an online extension of my brick & mortar N.U. Test Prep. Center. It is an exciting project. And I must say the video production is really quite a tiring task and I now have a new found respect for those who work in this field.

Oh yeah, Reinvention! Well, it seems to me that once you have achieved some success, and the sun dial indicates 50 years of age, people tend to go into cruise-control. I want to fight that. CAPE is part of that! As is Murder in Milton: The Suffolk Resolve. This is my latest novel and the 3rd in the Sam Collins Mystery Series. My best yet and will hit the shelves in early 2018. And while I’m at it, can’t forget fitness. Down to 198 pounds as of this Sunday morning! And perhaps the Sunday morning sums it up. My life is a 24/7 affair and that is something I do not need to reinvent.

My Kids

The height of liberalism has dawned. How do I know? Well, I’m a football fan. More to the point, I follow the NFL. And as most people know, it has become the cause du jour NFL players to sit or kneel during the National Anthem. Let us ignore, for the moment, the obvious bear baiting by our sophomorish bumbling caricature of a president. These players are showing contempt for the America’s symbol of freedom because, they assert, they live under a cloud of racial oppression. Despite their egregiously high salaries and the perks that go with being a professional athlete these men who suit up on Sundays feel their plight in society is unequal.

Ok. Well guess what? I support, 100%, their right to peaceful protest. And this is why liberals should be jumping for joy. They have made it possible for a section of the top 1% to feel victimized. And it is front page! Top of the fold!! The media is all over it and woe be the one to disagree. Then you are racist. Perhaps, if you choose to turn the dial elsewhere on a Sunday afternoon, you may even be a White Supremacist.

For me, I find this comical. But it is also a tad dangerous. Why? Well liberalism, or the fight for liberal causes, has become all too du jour. I am a progressive and as such look for solutions that will bring positive and lasting solutions for all of society.

Let’s look at one such situation. The war zone on the Southside of Chicago is staggering. Yet there are no Black Lives Matter marches. No athletes (to my knowledge) are taking a knee to shine a light on this case of mass murder. This is black on black crime on steroids. It is not sexy. It won’t sell paper. There are Black Leaders such as Spike Lee (Chiraq) and Stephen A. Smith who have tried, shouted at the top of their lungs, to bring this tragedy into the national spotlight. But they have either been ignored or chided for their efforts.

And this morally corrupt situation does not fit the liberal narrative. There is no white bogeyman. And so the Southside continues to be consumed by flames. Here are some stats:

Year to Date
Shot & Killed: 494
Shot & Wounded: 2375
Total Shot: 2869
Total Homicides: 531

Week in Progress (9/24 – 9/30)
Shot & Killed: 15
Shot & Wounded: 66
Total Shot: 81
Total Homicides: 15

Well, that’s enough for today. But this week I have an exciting interview coming up with none other than Iain Donnelly!

Cambodia Project

And, the Parent’s Corner will return as will my album & movie watching recommendations!!

This & That

Kaepernick, Shakespeare in the Park, & a girl named Kathy

Or the quarterback, the comedienne, & the dramatist and what they have in common. Victimhood apparently.

Colin Kaepernick was a rising star for the NFL a few years back. His career evened off but, coming into 2016, he was still held in high regard. Until he took his right to free speech to the sidelines. In a show of silent protest against racist police activity he chose to kneel instead of stand during the National Anthem. He was applauded in many corners while criticized by others.

Kathy Griffin is a comedienne. I cannot tell you much about her career other than to say she is, or was, the co-host of CNN’s New Year’s Eve bash. If nothing else, she had at least had one sweet gig. A few weeks back, in an attempt at performance art fused with political satire, she was photographed holding a replica of Donald Trump’s bloodied and severed head.

Central Park’s annual summer event of Shakespeare in the Park is set to kick off. This year they are planning to modernize Julius Caesar. Caesar is depicted as a man looking quite like President Donald Trump. Of coure we all know how that ends. Et Tu, Ivanka!

Ok, even if you disagree with the choices made above, certainly we can agree they each have the right to free political expression. I applaud that. I also understand that they each accrue their salaries based from the market place. So Colin is no longer an NFL quarterback, Kathy has been dumped by CNN, and the Shakespeare Troupe finds itself without its cherished corporate funding.

I understand that as well. Like it or not, your words & deeds have consequences.

The Wrong Lone White Gunman

One could almost imagine the rock stiff anticipation many reporters experienced upon hearing that a crazed older white dude had opened fire upon a group of congressmen the other day. Just imagine the stories! Oh my the several angles one could approach this story of a sixty something white man from the mid-west toting his rifle hunting congressional prey. Then the unimaginable happened:

What, he’s one of us?”

“Yeah, you should see his facebook. Even a member of Occupy Wall Street!”

Rock stiff quickly morphed into Mr. Softy. The story quickly lost its sizzle. Clearly a deranged white mid-westerner from the far right, preferably an ardent Bible thumper, made for better copy. A couple of days of “clearly he should not have done this, we condemn it in the strongest possible terms, but, well, perhaps he had been pushed too far by Trump & CO. and if we only had stronger gun laws…” was the most the press could wrangle out of this story.

And now, a few days out from the incident, it does seem to have been relegated to the back pages. Who knows, perhaps another sixty something white dude is planning his revenge. Hmm, now that will be juicy!!

Behind the Times

I don’t know what opioides are. I guess it is a new type of drug and judging from how often it is now referenced, the current rage in the celebrity circles. I also don’t know what cisgender is. Obviously a new gender category. I just got myself wrapped around transgender. Basically Dude Looks Like a Lady meets Lola. LGBTQIA is the new umbrella term. Q means queer. I used to know what queer meant but I cannot be sure if that term is still the same as it originally used to cover the LG & B. And IA? Well you’ve got me. If we are all inclusive, shouldn’t S or H be included as well? Food for thought.

 

Ok, that’s it. Sitting around my office with a bit of time on my hands and felt like a chat of this and that.

 

 

The Locke Report: June Edition

On the Stump

This month let us deal with self analysis. Collectively speaking that is. A few years back Tom Brokaw wrote a book titled The Greatest Generation. It was the story of that generation that went off to fight World War II. Those brave young men and women that sacrificed their youth, and often their lives, to build a better society. These are our parents and grandparents, our aunts and uncles, heroes one and all.

Their sacrifices and hard work paved the way for the modern and affluent society that my generation takes for granted. So, as the baby boomer generation gently walks into the autumn of their lives it is appropriate to ask: Are we the worst generation?

It is a fair question. Has this generation done some admirable work? Yes. There is now a much greater attention given towards caring for the environment. Then again, for all the bitching, moaning, and indignant complaints coming from the middle and higher classes, there has never been any serious talk to curbing the mass consumerism that has fueled this alarming threat to the environment.

The greatest generation produced John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Tip O’Neill, Ronald Reagan, & Malcolm X. Impressive and that is just on the political level. Our generation has produced Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, & Hillary Clinton. I don’t feel I need to elaborate on this point.

But it is an important point. Because like every age, ours has some serious problems at our doorstep. Have we developed leaders capable of dealing with momentous events? Are we so coddled with our material wealth and comfort, our elevated level of self-righteousness, that we are incapable of bridging the growing ideological gaps that threaten the fabric of the society the Greatest Generation bequeathed to us?

Our generation, I would assert, is lazy. The Greatest Generation was not without their faults and us Baby Boomers do have our virtues. So it is not too late.

Hit the Road!

I had lunch with a good friend the other day. He is one of the best our generation has produced and a man who would flourish in any age. Perhaps an interview will crop up in the future. In any event, let me tell you of the gem of a resort and restaurant that he and his wife have built overlooking the River Ping in Kamphaengphet, Thailand.

As the photo below attests, there are a bevy of delectable items on the menu. Each one is expertly prepared. The resort also offers wonderful lodging at a very reasonable price. And when you wake up, the breakfast will knock your socks off.

Here is the contact information for the Maeping Mango Riverside Resort: https://www.facebook.com/maepingmango/

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This resort is the perfect getaway for those living the big city Bangkok life. Or, if you are planning a trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai it is located about half way between. Go to Trip Advisor and check out the great reviews.

Ok, well that’s it for this month. I’ll try to be more interesting next time. Until then, have a bundle of great days!!

The Locke Report: April/May Edition

Missed my Deadline! Well, ok, we’ll fudge it and put two columns into one.

The Parent Trap: So, ok, my son is potty training and both my wife, daughter, & yours truly are chipping in. And Hunter is almost there. Anyway, Saturday morning I’m watching the Red Sox – Cubs game. Top of the 9th we’re up and I’m glued to the set. “Dad, poo poo time,” Hunter says. “Ok, little man. Just a minute.” And just like that we closed out a hard fought win. Hunter smiles, raises his hands palm up, “Sorry, Dad!”

Oops. My wife then comes back in the house from her garden. She smells Hunter’s poo and puts her hands on her hips with her nostrils flared. “Not Hunter’s fault, Mom. Dad was watching the game,” Meggie chimes in. Both mother and daughter shake their heads and walk out of the room. Lesson learned! This is April not September!! Then again: WE WON!!!

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Hillary & I

This article came to my attention recently. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/hillary-clinton-spoke-devastating-election-190721581.html

It focuses on an interview with Hill about her 2016 election loss and how she was dealing with the aftermath. The thing that stood out to me was how often she used the word ‘I’ and the lack of ‘we’.

Perhaps, if we can dismiss deep inside baseball analysis, herein lies the problem. People can easily discern when motives are purely personal. Politicians such as Bill, W, & Barry were clearly ambitious people. But they also let you feel there was something deeper, a rising tide raises all boats type of ambition. For most voters, me included, you never felt that Hill cared one way or the other about my boat. And because of that ‘I’ mentality the door was left open for perhaps the singularly most unqualified person to ever run for the presidency.

The Russians, USA Foreign Aid, & Free Elections

The whole scandal over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election is dying a slow quiet death. This is no surprise. Are the Russians spreading money around? Sure. But my suspicion is that their generosity spreads to both sides of the aisle. Best to sweep this under the rug.

Still, is there another way to look at this? We also like to open our wallet in other countries. Let us take Macedonia. Here, through USAID, our government has funneled millions in direct grants given to George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. The OSF directly supports left wing political groups. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Soros setting up this program nor is there anything wrong in him directly supporting liberal political movements.

However, if the U.S. Government is involved isn’t that a direct attempt to sway an election? Something to think about in any event…

Buy The Book

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Happy to say that my short story, tentatively titled Two for the Road, is finished. It will be included in Mekong Shadows as shown above. I highly recommend penning short stories as it well can be an inspiration for a greater story as was the case here. Who knows, a novel may follow…

Good friend Jim Algie has just released a new novel which I highly recommend. It can be found here:

On the Night Joey Ramone Died: Tales of rock and punk from Bangkok New York Cambodia and Norway

I am about half way through and do not look forward to putting it down. A review will be forthcoming next month for this fine effort from Algie.
And I’m happy to say my latest, Repent, has been selling well and garnering some very nice reviews of which I am quite grateful.
Well that is it till June! Happy to say that I have been extremely busy at the office, at the keyboard, & with the family. Still, a Sports Page should be forthcoming in the next week so you can look for that.
Have A Great May!