Friday, 16 March 2018

I am not an Alien aka Why I will Never be Slim

Recently, I was talking to an annoying perky slim person.  It was four in the afternoon.  Here’s what she said:

“I’m really hungry because I forgot to have lunch today.”

Eh, what?  Are you kidding me?  Is this person human? Who forgets to have lunch?

No, really.  Have you ever worked in an office?  It goes something like this:

Any sane person I know who works for a living starts clock-watching at 11:30, at the latest.  Only half an hour…only twenty minutes…I’ll go to the bathroom.  Talk to Rachel in accounting.  Is it noon yet?  WILL THAT CLOCK EVER MOVE?

Things aren’t much different if you are an author writing from home.  It is currently 11:06 am.  I have decided to write this humour column to distract myself from the lure of the last-night leftovers.  Because I know from experience that if I eat lunch at 11, then dinner somehow gets downed by 3:30.  And even the Hobbits don’t indulge in second dinner.

To set the record straight, I have never missed a meal in my life.  Okay, I’ve been toilet-bowl-sick and passed on solid food, but only because I knew it wouldn’t stay down in its current form.  I didn’t *forget* to eat.

The 3 o-clock meeting has some of the same attributes.  I’m willing to bet that the annoyingly slim person above hasn’t even thought about the fact that the main virtue of morning or afternoon meetings is the plate of muffins in the table center.  Lose your muffins, lose your allies. And wait for the grumbling.  Not just stomachs.

Speaking of stomachs, more annoyingly slim person dialogue I have been witness to:

 “Ooh.  I ate a whole egg.  I bet you can see the bulge in my stomach now.”

“I’m starving.  Do you feel like soup?  I could really down a whole cup of fat-free chicken broth with nothing in it.  Yum.”

“Salad.  Let’s have a salad.  We can use lemon juice instead of salad dressing, if you’re worried about the calories.”  <eyes drop to my waist>

Okay, the clock is getting closer to 12:00, so I'll wrap this up quickly by circling back to the post title:

What kind of planet are these people from, who forget to eat?

My take on people who forget to eat is that they are probably from some place like Mars or Jupiter where they don’t have carbs growing conveniently out of the ground.  Which makes them aliens. 

I always knew slim people were aliens.

Final joke I sold to a standup comedian back in the day:

“I had the flu once.  It was awful.  I couldn’t eat a thing for three hours.”

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

4/4 stars - Industry review of The B-Team! CM magazine, University of Manitoba

CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 26. . . . March 9, 2018
The B-Team: The Case of the Angry First Wife. (Rapid Reads).
Melodie Campbell.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2018.
130 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1807-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1808-8 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1809-5 (epub).
Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Of course, those infamous burglaries were all long before. Kitty retired a few years ago after breaking an ankle in a bad fall while leaving a second story window. Now she divides her time between her little house in the forest and the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home, visiting my elderly relatives who reside there. Many of them are dotty. Not Kitty. Her brain cells are in for the long haul.

The B-Team is about scamming, but not the usual type so common in today’s society where people are scammed for their money on the Internet. It is about outright theft where the victim loses a diamond necklace worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those trying to find the jewellery are the ones who are scammed.
     The B-Team, a modern version of the A Team so popular on 1980’s TV, try to solve the crime. The team members are young Canadian Italian adults, well-versed in crime, who should have no trouble doing so. Instead, they are completely fooled.
     The necklace belongs to a recently divorced woman who believes that it was stolen by her former husband and is now being worn by his new wife. In a surprise twist, it turns out that the woman is not the divorced wife. The B-Team has no reason to doubt her and plan to get the necklace back. Instead, they are totally fooled by the woman, but, with the help of other members of the Italian community, they retrieve the necklace and return it to its rightful owner. The B-Team is well written, attention grabbing and fun. Once started, most readers will be hooked and have a hard time putting the book down.
Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher and author, lives in North Bay, ON.

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Friday, 9 March 2018

First photos from The B-TEAM launch!

Feeling very under-made-up at the moment...with winners of the BEST COSTUME PRIZE!

Many thanks to all who turned out to the Launch of THE B-TEAM last night!  $500 was raised for the Hamilton Literacy Council.

Monday, 26 February 2018

In Defense of Comedy (in which our Bad Girl talks the serious side of comedy)

Everyone likes comedy, right?


I’ve written comedy professionally since 1992.  I got my start writing stand-up. In the 1990s, I had a regular humour column in the Toronto region, and I now write for The Sage (a Canadian satire magazine.) 

Any seasoned humour writer will tell you that consistently writing comedy is difficult.  What looks easy doesn’t write easy.  The old actor saying, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard,” stands for writers too.  In books, not only do you have to pay attention to plot, characterization, dialogue, viewpoint, motivation, etc. like every other author, but you also have to add an additional element, comedy.  It’s like there is an additional test for you that others don’t have to pass.  And you don’t get paid any more for doing it.

And it gets worse: Comedy writers take risks that other writers don’t.

For here’s the thing:  comedy is by nature dangerous.  It often makes fun of things that other people take seriously.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to write comedy and not offend someone, somewhere.

The Rowena Through the Wall series is a spoof of bodice rippers. (Oddly enough, some people haven't caught on yet.  That's okay.  As long as they enjoy it, I'm good.)  Thing is, I'm doing a spoof of bodice rippers.  If you care deeply about bodice rippers (oh, the puns I could make right now) then you might be annoyed that I am appearing to make fun of them.

Even the most seemingly inoffensive broad comedy (the sort of thing I write) will attract criticism.  The Goddaughter is the first in a series of six comic capers from Orca books.  These are meant to be humorous entertainment. Nothing blatantly didactic.  No preaching.  I am hoping for smirks and laughter to lift your mood.

It’s satire.  A loony mob family is chronically inept.  A reluctant mob goddaughter wants to escape the business, but is always pulled back in to bail them out.  What results is a series of wacky capers and heists-gone-bad.

What could be offensive about that?

But ah.  The heroine of the story is a mob goddaughter, even if she doesn’t want to be one.  “You don’t get to choose your relatives,” she says.  I’m writing stories about the mob, in which we are actually compelled to want certain members to succeed in their crazy plans. 

I’ve found that even writing about the mob can invite outrage.  Operating outside the law is bad, even evil, a reader wrote recently. How dare I make light of serious crime? 

Which brings me to the point of this post (get to the point, Mel).  Comedy, done well, has a secondary purpose to making us laugh.  Some would say primary purpose.  It has the ability to threaten power.  Throughout history, writers have used comedy to satire and ridicule the people who have power over us.

If we were to limit the ability of authors to write about certain subjects or groups of people in light and humorous ways, we would lose the ability to ‘bring them down to size.’  To show their 

My satire is gentle.  But it is there, all the same.  In my humour columns and books, I poke fun at people and organizations that want to have power over us.  To maintain that power, they must be taken seriously.

And boy, do they hate comedy writers like me.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

TODAY! THE B-TEAM gang sneaks into Sleuth of Baker Street.

Hold onto your wallets and purses (Okay, it's a book launch. They really won't rob you. Might stuff you with homemade baking though...)