Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Goodbye Snow

OK, it was fun while it lasted. Now just back to cold. A friend of mine and I were reminiscing about the snowstorms we had in the 70's. Somewhere between 77-78 there was a big snow storm. We were in Salisbury playing board games, either Flattop or Panzer of Squad Leader, and the snow was predicted to let up early, but it didn't. Pretty soon it was so deep I was wondering if I could get home, down in Mt. Vernon in those days. Anyway, I decided to bug out before it got dark, so I packed Rich up and I couldn't get up his driveway, so dropped him off and headed for Rt. 13. I took it slow, then down Mt. Vernon Rd. It was starting to get dark and the snow was blowing everywhere. I really must have had a guardian angel that day. When I got to the house, the front yard was drifted up so I accelerated my old Monte Carlo as fast as I could without it spinning and plowed into the yard. I just managed to get off the road before the tires started spinning. There it sat for a few days until things got thawed out.
That was a bad winter. I fractured my right arm slipping on ice in Princess Anne also and lost my job on account of not being able to work with both hands (and had to fight for unemployment because the boss didn't want to pay. Things worked out though and I managed to find some better paying jobs until the economy finally settled down in the 80's. Now things are bad again.
I feel like I have gone back in time nearly 30 years. Even the State of Maryland, a place where you thought employment was secure is thinking about laying off. With the hiring freeze and eliminating positions when people retire, you are left with an aging, less capable workforce dealing with more work and more stress. Things are not good right now and I am praying very very hard that whatever the new Prez does works.
OK, not much going on down on the Shore right now except cold, murder and politics. Come visit your Humble Scribe again.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More on Murder and Mayhem

Joe Albero in his blog just updated the murder with some shocking news that the villains were earlier arrested and released. Please check out his blog at:

While Joe and I are not always on the same page politically, I have lately found his local news more detailed and more accurate than the local papers, who in today's lead story, shocked me by revealing that Nissan sold a previously unknown model called the "Ultima". Who proofreads over there anyway?

Bad grammar and proofing seems to be plaguing the Times of late. As an editor, such stuff jangles on me. Anyway, its still a beautiful day on Delmarva. I braved the crowds at Fruitland Walmart (they seemed particuarly busy for a non-Christmas season day) and am back at the keyboard. Gianni Hayes and I submitted a book proposal to History Press this week. Wish us luck and do visit Your Humble Scribe again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Murder and Mayhem on the Eastern Shore

What a way to close out the week! As if things weren't bad enough with layoffs in droves and the partisan sniping coming back out (check out the Daily Times and Joe Albero's blog if you want to see the rottenness on both sides coming out), we have another murder on Maryland's Eastern Shore. A poor, innocent young lady was hijacked, killed, left in a field and her car ends up near my old neighborhood. I am, and always have been, a proponent of the death penalty. Maybe I am bloodthirsty, but life in prison doesn't seem to be a strong enough deterrent. Feel free to disagree with me, your opinions are equally valued.
Meanwhile, not much else going on. I gave blood today. I am part of the Lifeline program over at the Blood Bank. I am way too old to go around Afghanistan hunting for Osama yo Mama, so I figured the best way to help was to donate blood to save the life of somebody who might be shot while getting the Al Qaeda rats that don't deserve a trial.
I also have been catching up on my reading in preparation for some new writing. I have learned that Neanderthal man had a brain larger than a modern humans and was also stronger. Why did us puny Homo Sapiens get rid of him? Were they the original flower children and we wiped them or were they the real kings of Atlantis and went under with the Flood? Stay tuned!

Neat site of the week:

What science doesn't teach you! Visit Your Humble Scribe again!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Big Day for the USA

I was amazed as I watched the millions of people in DC as Barack Obama became the 44th President. The chanting was unlike any other inauguration I had ever seen. If style can be translated into substance, there is much to hope for. If partisanship can be laid aside for the common good, we can get out of this mess. Let's hope.

I had severl people mention to me that they saw me on PAC-14. I didn't realize it got that much traffic. Anyway, if you don't know what PAC-14 is, it's the local Public Access Channel for Wicomico County and I did a special with Dr. Gianni Hayes that I hope we can spin into a monthly series where we interview local authors and talk about writing. Here's the website:

Go check it out. More haunted houses are popping up as I talk to more people. If you have a true paranormal event to share, drop me a line. Meantime, back to work! Come and see Your Humble Scribe again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some snow, but all too brief

I enjoyed watching the snow come down, but it didn't last. I remember in the 60's (going by memory and nothing else), it snowed a couple of times every winter and at least one snowstorm was pretty hefty, over 4 inches. I can recall big piles of snow plowed up in the schoolyard of Mt. Vernon Elementary 1 (or the white Elementary school, pre-integration -- it's the volunteer fire department now.). The snow lasted through the 70's. I almost got stuck sometime in the late 70's and plowed my old Monte Carlo into the yard until it stopped. I can remember watching Richard Murray spinning his car around in the Ella Fitzgerald Center parking lot one year also. '79 was a bad snow year. I was working for Chesapeake Plywood (or subcontracting through Carlton Windsor) and we were down to Belle Haven Virginia loading lumber barges in the snow. They had a bucket of burning pitch to keep us warm. Didn't help. What helped was the chain on the Hyster machine that picked up the logs breaking right near the big hook that the loops of steel cable went through. We had a harrowing ride though almost whiteout conditions for over a hour until I got back to Princess Anne. Nobody went anywhere for a couple of days after that.
Since then, snows got leaner, except for a really nasty one in the early 80's that had a wind chill around -50, and one in the late 80's when I ended up in a ditch (though not too bad. A fellow pulled me out and all I needed was to clean the carpeting where a little bit of water got in. 70 degree Thanksgivings are more the norm than the exception now, and we just don't get the big snowstorms anymore. It's good because they are hazardous, but kids around here don't get the kind of Christmases I had when I was little.
Well, tomorrow is Inauguration Day. Over 2 million people in DC. Not me. I hate driving around DC in normal conditions. I am hoping that the good will shown by both sides so far (at least publicly) will linger a while and that the only people who remain on the opposition are, as Michael Chertoff, the Republican Director of Homeland Security said, racists, the disturbed, and those with an axe to grind. Good luck President Obama. You will need it.
The cold is making my hands hurt, so its a short post tonight, kiddies. Please visit Your Humble Scribe another day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stuff going down on the Shore

At least it was above freezing today. Good thing, too. I lost power for about five hours on Saturday and cable for almost 12, which included the Internet, so didn't get much accomplished (but played a lot of Cossacks: Art of War until it crashed. Guess I won. I beat 3 out of four computer opponents on Very Hard and was marching on the fourth. The likely culprit is too many units for the game to handle.). OK, so back to normal here, but not a normal weekend or week, eh? Let's run things down.
Saturday, as if freezing temperatures weren't bad enough some poor schmo gets his home invaded and he mysteriously dies while being duct-taped. I hope they find whoever did that and put them away (can't say I hope they get the chair because we can't execute people around here anymore). The City of Salisbury touts a storm drain diversion system with no filtration. Glad I don't eat fish from the Wicomico. This wouldn't be so bad, but the Daily Times also said sea levels will rise by 3 feet in the next 100 years. The Wicomico could be in my back yard, with all that unfiltered runoff from storms. Maybe I can find some wash out wallets or something.....
What's coming up tomorrow? Martin Luther King Day. Hooray, I am off! I was in the eighth grade when he was assassinated. I still get sad when I hear Abraham, Martin and John on the radio. Some people claim he was a closet Communist, but I see him as an icon of all that needed changing in this country and still needs changing, which brings up the next item this week:
Tuesday is Inauguration Day! It kills me that people are griping about this. Yeah, its overblown, but so what? This is the first time in history that a non-white guy got elected President. If he screws up, it might be the last time, so I say enjoy it! When I was in the eighth grade and MLK was shot, I didn't figured I'd live long enough to see something like this. I figured it would be a white woman first, not a fellow with African descent.
And yes, African descent. People are quick to label him an Arab because most Americans equate Arabs with terrorists (Tim McVeigh, yep, he was a closet rag-head camel jockey. They are keeping it a secret and you know who THEY are...). So, see its OK to be derogatory towards an Arab since its not PC to be derogatory to a black guy, so the racists can dime him out as an Arab. Like most people around Africa, he's probably got a little of a lot in him. Negroid, Semitic, Hamitic, even a bit of Caucasian on his dad's side for all we know. That part of Africa was a British colony. They probably had Indians over there, too. I think Ghandi was in Africa for a while. Maybe Obama is related to him, too. I just read a report of a study saying that there is no indication of any Neanderthal genes in modern humans, so you can't tie him to Neanderthal man, OK? Bottom line, who gives a rat's patootie what the man's pedigree is? He meets the qualifications and was elected fair and square.
Of coure, if he screws up, he can join the ranks of illustrious singeltons like Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush. We can get another "wrinkly old dude" as my daughter described McCain to snooze through 8 years and hope we survive. I prefer to have hope.
You may agree, disagree, as you please. Your Humble Scribe respects you no matter what, because no matter what the facts are, it is still appropriate to have hope, because without hope, it doesn't matter who stands up there on Inauguration Day. I am happy my daughter will get to see something I never believed would happen while I was on this side of the Great Beyond. I remember when I was in elementary school our teachers would make sure we got to see Inaugurations and every rocket launch and Kennedy's funeral. I have hope. You may say, that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one......

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold on the Shore!

And it's going to get colder! As I advance in age, cold weather bothers me more and more. Still, though, no real snow in the forecast. When I was a kid in the 60's, it snowed every winter. I remember snows so deep that they drifted over the doors and it was like living in an igloo. We only had woodstoves for heat in those days and my mother and grandmother kept them stoked all day and banked them for the evening. Without a hot water heater, they would heat up a big pot of hot water on the stove for bathing. When I think back to those days, it amazes me how we got along so well with so little when my friends all had telephones, color televisions, flush toilets and hot water on demand.
As I have said in my books, though, I never felt poor. It was always warm (and in the summer too warm with no air conditioning. I didn't know what AC was like until around 1986, now I can't live without it), I always had plenty of food to eat and clothes to wear (though not always trendy). I had to develop other skills to overcome the advantages other kids had in order to keep up, so I wrote and drew constantly from about age 13 on up, when I wasn't reading. My art teacher in college, Mr.s Louise Everton, described me as having a "tar bucket mind". In other words, most of what I learned stuck. It had to. My encyclopedias at home were 1956 vintage, the year I was born! By the time I got them in 1967, they were hopelessly out of date, but I loved them, especially a set of Richard's Topica Encyclopedias with wonderful color pictures of famous paintings, animals, minerals and best of all, Chesley Bonesteel paintings of the planets.
Anyway, what's going on today? The war in Gaza drags on. This time the Israelis bombed the UN compound full of food for the refugees. Was this an accident or did Hamas fighters deliberately fire rockets using the proximity of the compound as a safe zone? Israel has accused the Hamas leadership of cowering in bunkers under hospitals and schools, places the Israelis would not bomb. Are they smart or cowards? In the military, this is known as asymmetrical warfare: a large and sophisticated force versus and smaller, less techincally able force that relies on wits and unconventional tactics to hold off the other side.
Last thought. Book buying in Salisbury may get harder real soon. Henrietta Moore, of Henrietta's attic, one of the two remaining used book stores in the city, is looking to retire and needs a buyer. She has been a good friend of mine and carries all my books in her shop. She is the best promoter of local authors there is. Market Street seems interested in used books only and your other choices are Salvation Army and Goodwill. Speaking of Goodwill. We used to grocery shop there when it was the Colonial Store. I used to walk down the block to Salisbury Drugs, in the section where Illusions is now, more or less. They had a great selection of paperbacks and comics. I remember the clerk there was a nice man who had lost several joints on his fingers on one hand. He didn't let that slow him down and fixed a watch band for me one time. You miss service like that. OK, time to go. Come visit Your Humble Scribe again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Down Memory Lane

I belong to a listserver, that is a dedicated message group, this one dedicated to the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the guy who wrote Tarzan, along with about fifty other novels. Anyway, the subject was what was one your bookshelf as a kid. Boy, that sent me back.
I grew up very poor. We had no phone, no running water, no car. Well, my Dad had a car, but he was never home. He wasn't one to be tied down, so he went up to Connecticut where he could make more money to send us. Well, his donations got smaller and smaller and his letters fewer and fewer, along with his visits. If Mom guessed the truth, she never talked about it, but I found out later that he wasn't faithful, not by a long shot. They're both gone now, so its over with. It made me determined, though, to make sure my daughter has a full time father and never lacks for anything.
Anyway, back to the growing up part. Mom always read to me, both Little Golden Books and comics. The Little Golden Books were in a bookshelf along with her Zane Gray and Emily Loring hardcovers and her treasured copy of Gone With the Wind. It was her favorite movie and she went to see if five times. When it came back in the 70's, I had a car and I made sure she saw it a sixth time. When I saw it, I loved it and I have her copy of the book and her copy of Scarlett that I gave her when it came out along with the big color book on the movie that I gave her one year. As Mom fell for the handsome Rhett, I guess I fell for the beautiful, though scheming, Scarlett O'hara.
Anyway, as I grew up, the bookcase evolved. The comics always ended up in a box and I ruined a lot of collectible comics over the years, including Avengers number one, probably worth over 10 grand now. Who knew? My grandfather would go over to Benny Wells' auction in Delmar and get me a whole box of comics for a dime. In those days, the price of one comic had just changed from 10 to 12 cents, so a whole box was a bargain. They were a mixed bag, Classic Comics, Marvel Comics, Dell Comics and Charlton Comics. I read about the 3 Musketeers, Tarzan, Gorgo, Magnus, and whole bunch more. If Mom went to the Ben Franklin store in Princess Anne, I ended up with Dell, later Gold Key Walt Disney comics along with some movie tie ins, usually of Walt Disney movies, though I did get the Lost World.
So anyway, my second grade teacher figured I was a bright kid, so she loaded me up with books to read and I read all summer. The next year, instead of 3rd grade, I was suprised to find that they had skipped me up to 4th grade. The reading paid off. That same year I was diagnosed with asthma and it curtailed a lot of physical activity, so I spent a lot of time indoors during allergy seasons reading. By the time I got to high school (In those days there was just one high school (well one for white folks and one for black) with all six grades, I was reading just fine and that summer I got my first adult book to read, the War of the Worlds. For better or for worse, I was hooked on reading and the Little Golden Books ended up in a box so that I could start loading up on novels. In the 8th grade I would snag as many science fiction books as Mom would let me. After all, with our budget, two bucks was a make or break amount.
War of the Worlds was followed by the Invaders, Land of the Giants, the Mask of Fu Manchu, Flying Saucers --Here and Now, and Eight Tales of Terror by Edgar Allen Poe. Land of the Giants and Eight Tales of Terror are now gone, but my copies of the rest are still with me and within the last three years I reread the Invaders and Mask of Fu Manchu.
Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden and Barack Obama trade words. The stock market plunges. Russia and Ukraine battle over oil and Governor O'Malley wants to lay off some of my fellow workers (EEEK, could it be me?). We are swamped as it is. If he wants to make us more swamped, that's up to him. Your Humble Scribe will find a way to survive. I have to. Retirement is still over 7 years away.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Now I lay me down to sleep

I figure I better write this before I get any punchier. A long day at the office. As the economy continues to go into the toilet, my "business" just keeps picking up. The despair in peoples' voices and the high strung emotions are heartbreaking. People are losing jobs, homes, cars, savings, while we have petty crap going on nationally, like the Republican partisan antics to deliberately lean on targeted cabinet nominees (when 8 years ago, they considered it "treason" for Democrats to do so) -- source NPR to local officials intimidating mild mannered and aged detractors with personal visits (shades of Willy Don "I know where you live!" Scheaffer). It's no wonder this country is in a mess. Partisanship and personal gain have overcome the American spirit of overcoming adversity through community (You know, E Pluribus Unum, and stuff like that).
Memo to all elected officials -- We are in a crisis here. Can't you stop all the silly stuff like who can out-mean the other and derail proposals so you can go back home and brag about it instead of helping hurting Americans? I am not just talking Republicans here. Democrats are just as bad (see Michael "I was against slots before I was for slots" Busch (but only against it when a Republican wanted to take credit for it).
OK, enough political rants. I am not sure what useful purpose they serve, but I feel better for mine. Let's talk about other stuff. My middle stepson successfully had his gall bladder taken out by the excellent Dr. John "hug 'em and call 'em honey" Barkovitch, so next stop Johns Hopkins for some gene therapy that sounds like something out of Michael Crichton's "Next", which, if you have not read it, I highly recommend as being an amazing romp of a novel that helped me understand genetics as they are today and astonished me with every revelation.
Cool website today: Check out the photos of giants on Stephen Quayle's site:

While I don't adhere to some of his stuff , he has a neat collection of photos of giants, male and female. There's one Russian fellow over nine feet tall. Goliath in the Bible was supposed to be ten feet (six cubits and a span. A cubit is an average of 18 inches and a span half that, so you do the math). There are also some links to some odd shaped skulls from South America. If you saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, you'll see where the idea came from when you check out the photos. People theorize that the odd shapes were created by binding infant skulls when they are soft as Orientals did with women's feet to keep them small. OK, enough for tonight. Come back and visit Your Humble Scribe another day, and please pray for our country and for Jason, my stepson.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Weekend is Over!

I've been slack the last couple of days with no posts, but I have been doing a lot of running around in conjunction with family. My stepson is having his gall bladder out tomorrow, so I hope you will all pray for his rapid healing so that he can move on to the next step in his cancer treatment. I never ceased to be amazed how modern technology has revolutionized the medical field, but there is still no single "magic bullet" for cancer yet. Gene therapy and stem cells seem to hold promise, but they are decades away from practical use, so I continue to rely on faith that Jason can hold out until some of these new treatments can come online.
Local news has been pretty quiet, though I see by Joe Albero's blog that something portentious is in the wind for Monday for residents of Salisbury, so look out! My old buddy George Chevallier is posting a regular feature on the blog, so I guess I'll be hooked on that now. George was a key source of pictures for my book on Wicomico County that Arcadia put out that I cowrote with Gianni Hayes.
Not much to talk about right now, but I did get an interesting book from my friend Dale Watson called Giants by Stephen Quayle. It makes a case for the Biblical giants based on some research and has a nifty photo section of real life giants from the last hundred and fifty years or so. I didn't see an photo of Andre the Giant, though, but I saw him in person some twenty years ago at the Civic Center. As always, share your comments with me and be sure to mention Your Humble Scribe to your friends.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Long day, glad its over.

I drove my stepson around today for a couple of tests and a consult with his surgeon. He is getting his gall bladder out Monday, but they have to be careful because he has non-Hodgkins. He is going back Johns Hopkins after he recovers from the surgery and they are going to try to use some sort of gene therapy on him without resorting to a bone marrow transplant. Please pray this all works.
I read a short sighted Grapevine post in the paper today about State Employees. People think all us State Employees do is sit around and are paid a mint. Most folks I know love their job because they could make more in the private sector. We're there when you need us, policing the state, keeping the roads clear, taking care of severely diabled patients at Deer's Head and trying to ensure that children in the state aren't abused or neglected. Nobody's perfect and no system is perfect, but I am proud of what I am doing, which right now is helping out a lot of folks who wouldn't have food ot put on their table or be able to take their kids to the doctors. Yeah, its a pain I am losing some money, but I am happy to have my job and hopefully things will turn around. I just don't like it when people get angry over State Workers, but then I have learned that all anger is jealousy. I fumbled what I was hoping to be a profound reply to the poster on the Times' website, but I got my State Trooper's mixed up that died in the line of duty to protect complainers like the one who wrote that shortsighted piece.
Anway, on to other news. I got seven pages on my next novel done tonight, Woohoo! I am reading a nifty book right now by Colin Wilson called Atlantis and the Kingdom of the Neanderthals. It's really mainly a rehash of theories about ancient people and ancient technologies, but I haven't seen these notions put together in one book before. It's fascinating to go back over them and consider them in their totality, things like the Great Pyramid, the age of the Sphinx, Atlantis, what happened to the Neanderthals, stuff like that. After all, Neanderthals were more robust than we were and had bigger brains. Did Homo Sapiens kill them all off? Recent reports show no genetic similarities in us and Neanderthals, so there doesn't seem to have been any interbreeding that affected our gene pool.
Meanwhile, I am doing an interview with PAC-14, the local public access channel tomorrow morning, so I better get some sleep. I am still wondering how many people are really reading this thing. Drop me a comment if you are able! This is your humble Scribe, signing off.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Peace, Peace, but there is no Peace

Well, I was amazed. 3 hours of ceasefire. Maybe Nicky Sarkozy has the magic touch after all. We'll see how it shakes out. Nature abhors a vacuum and since we're in a government transition, the EU gets to jump in and try to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Meanwhile gasoline prices have jumped nearly 20 cents a gallon. The rally may not last. Oil prices took an almost six dollar dip. The Russians are flexing their energy muscles and causing jitters, but the main force driving the price down is the worsening economy. Less consumption means more supply.
Meanwhile, I understand my esteemed employer is feeling the economic pinch so salary reduction may continue after the end of June. Maybe close early on Fridays and save electricity, too. It's a thought. Our governor has all the answers, I'm sure. If he's smart, he'll be first in line for a stimulus package when the candy store opens January 21st. We can hope.
I remember the oil embargo back in the 1970's. I got my first car on the road in 1975. Gas was around 50 cents or so a gallon. I went to New York City the following year and was aghast at 75 cent a gallon gas. Boy, talk about the good old days. I can remember when I was a kid and gas was about a quarter a gallon down at the little country store at the end of what is now labeled Fitzbounds Road and Polks Road. My cousin's great grandmother Miss Julie, ran it. The official name was Smith Grocery. Then Getty took over and the price went to 33 cents a gallon. I thought that was terrible, too. I was always too broke to get a new car, and I was driving a station wagon (a big Plymouth with a 400 engine) during a lot of the Iranian crisis. Paying $1.65 a gallon was awful. I was driving to Ocean City six nights a week from Mt. Vernon. I think I had to fill up every three days.
I finally got my first new car in 1986. It was a Plymouth Colt. It got 33 miles per gallon. Boy, that was great. About that time everybody was driving more efficient cars and the price of gas fell back to a dollar a gallon. It jacked up again during the first Gulf War, I recall. This last jump really hit me hard. I had a Grand Am getting 30mpg, but it died after 165,000 miles and I was driving a Toyota Van getting 18mpg at best. Our other vehicle was a Trailblazer which gets worse mileage. As soon as possible, I sold the van (it had 265,000 miles on it, but I figured high gas was here to stay) and got a nice little Sebring. It gets better than 30 if I avoid city driving and the weather is nice, so I am doing my part to support the US auto industry and save gas. Wotta guy!
OK, enough ramble or now. I guess I could take requests if anybody has something they want to talk about. I was happy to get a new commentator in Upsy Daisy there. I'll probably never generate as much traffic as Joe Albero's blog, but he knows how to generate visitors. I just sit back and spin off stuff. I started an interesting series called the Nephilim by Lyn Marzulli. Its pretty clever, and gave me some food for thought. I am working on a Doomsday thriller myself. We'll see how it goes. I loaded some pictures of my books on my Daily Times persona (ShoreScribe), so check me out. See you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another day on the Shore

I read a comment in the Daily Times about vicious blogs (let's face it, they were mainly talking about a single blog that is the bete noir of certain Salisbury officials). I added a comment inviting folks here, but who knows if they will read it?
Anyway, what went on around here today. The Atlantic Hotel closed. I thought the prices in the restaurant were high the last time I ate there and that was five years ago at least. I usually drop in at Rayne's Reef in Berlin. Kinda reminds me of the old lunch counters I used to eat at down in Princess Anne during my college years. I usually gravitated between Peaky's, until it moved out to Rt. 13, Lawson's, and the Washington Hotel. I went to school with the kids of a couple of folks that worked out at the Washington Hotel, Mrs. Norma Shores and Irving Wallace. He made the best coleslaw in town, far as I was concerned.
The recession is getting a lot of places. I noted that the Chinese place in the Food Lion plaza on Rt. 12 is gone also. I used to get their Crab Won Ton when I was living in town. Up the road a bit from me now is a little country store that still makes subs and sandwiches. I was always a sub nut and still like cold cuts and cheese steaks. I remember first getting a real sub in Salisbury when Red Door was down by the "horse pistol" as RT would call Peninsula Regional when he was an announcer for WJDY 14270 AM radio. I went to school with Dan Campbell's son for a couple of years around 1970. They made great subs then.
More people are getting killed in Gaza. I guess it really will take an act of God for peace to break out there. I see ol' Nicholas Sarkozy flew down there to smooch on Hosni Mubarak. Sarkozy is trying to make France a superpower again. He didn't get much traction with the Russians in Georgia, and I doubt he'll get much in Israel. His wife might get jealous if he smooches on Tzipi Livni. She doesn't appear to be in the smooching mood, though, anyway. OK, enough for one post. Tell your friends to visit the Eastern Shore, or at least visit your humble Scribe.

Monday, January 5, 2009

All Politics are local

I was reminded today that national and even international politics affects us right here on the Eastern Shore. The Middle East conflict has driven up the price of oil, in turn causing gasoline to go up by ten cents a gallon in three days at some places. This is small discomfort compared to the death and suffering in Gaza, but does illustrate that we are now, like it or not, a global economy, heavily dependent on foreign oil from an unstable region of the globe.
As if this wasn't enough economic woes for me personally, I understand that the new administration is seriously thinking about another 10 cents or so in additional gasoline tactics. That's not so bad right now, but what happens when gas goes back up to 4 bucks a gallon again (and it will. We as consumers have short memories and will cheerfully make long trips and burn up what little surplus of fuel is being generated by the recession. I use my 32mpg Sebring more and more even with low gas prices instead of opting for the comfier Trailblazer that gets only half the mileage, in an effort to keep from consuming more than necessary).
One bright spot seems to be the next round of stimulus checks. As a Maryland state employee I am facing four days of furloughs and pay reduction between now and June. That stimulus check will make up for that and it might be a good strategy to take my furlough days the month it arrives.
Meanwhile, I wish the new administration well. They have a lot of political capital built up and I pray they spend it wisely to get us out of our economic hole and to develop new strategies to get us out of Iraq without weakening our security. The weather is changing and I have a whopper headache, so today's post is short. I haven't had many comments so I am hoping that people are not having trouble posting, or maybe folks just haven't found the blog yet. Maybe I should put in some hook words like Obama, Palin, Blagojevich, stuff like that. Meanwhile, I am making progress on my new novel and am getting a real feel for my plot mechanics. Good night all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Weird Stuff

I mentioned that I was researching the Paranormal. What I'm doing now is research for a novel that I am working on. Before I wrote military stuff and the folklore stuff on the Eastern Shore, I wanted to write pulp fiction. Yep, that's right. You see, when I was a kid, I read a lot because I had a lot of health problems that kept me inside or limited my physical activities. I still got out a lot and played hard, but I had asthma real bad so I couldn't play team sports or run very far.
Thanks to my mother, I read a lot. She made sure I had lots of comics to read, and early among them was Tarzan of the Apes. She used to pick up comics at the Ben Franklin store in Princess Anne. They stocked Dell, then Gold Key comics. Anyway, along with Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, I read Tarzan, Magnus Robot Fighter, and Turok, Son of Stone. It wasn't until I was 10 that the Batman craze hit TV, but that's another story. Anyway, reading the Tarzan comics and others gave me a craving for adventure stories. I also got to read Classics Illustrated, so along with the others, I was reading War of the Worlds, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and others in the series.
I was 12 when I bought my first real book. It was War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. I was hooked. When school started, I ordered just about everything weird that Scholastic Book Club offered, from the Lost World to Star Trek. My cousin was pretty good at drawing comics and I wanted to do that, too, but I was not in his league. He went on to become a wonderful painter of Eastern Shore water scenes and won a lot of trophies. I thought that maybe I could write as well as draw and tried my hand at writing a story. The first one was a bad continuation of the Lost World, then I tried a horror story with a vampire, then some science fiction stuff, but it was all pretty bad.
It didn't stop me though, and the more I practiced, the better I got. My art picked up too, and I thought maybe I could make a go of it as a teacher. I went out and got an art degree, but teaching jobs were pretty thin then. The country was in a recession and so I knocked around a bunch of low paying jobs until I finally got a steady job at a motel. During the winter, I had lots of time to write because it was dead around the office and very quiet.
Anyway, like I said in the first post, I wrote a lot of fanzine stuff, both for wargames and Tarzan and Dark Shadows fanzines. I also did a comic strip for the Ocean City paper Daily Info called Skipjack Pete. If you nose around the internet, you can probably find all my free stuff including Pete over at
Anyway, being a Christian, I was always fascinated with how to interpret the book of Revelation. I read several novels, including the whole Left Behind series, and I wanted to write something that was more accessible to a mainstream audience without being overly preachy (which I think the Left Behind series gets sometimes).
I also have some good ideas for interpretation of some aspects that are different from other novels in the genre. Another series I started reading and have gotten interested in is Lynn Marzulli's Nephilim trilogy. I finished the first book and am going to pick up the second soon. His take on the whole UFO business is different than mine, but he has some good ideas and wrote a gripping story.
His book gets at something that I have been thinking about for a while now. It has to do with UFOs and Bigfoot also. Thousands of people report seeing these things, but photos are rare and seldom of decent quality (escpecially of Bigfoot) and there are no non-controversial photos of aliens from UFOs, so are they real or not? People are seeing something and if you cut down the sightings by 90%, that still leaves hundreds of unexplained sightings. I read Phil Imbrogno's Interdimensional Universe with dissatisfaction, not with his concept, but with his execution because some of his reports and assertions strain credulty even for those inclined to believe. I am currently reading Patrick Harpur's Daimonic Reality, a much more thoughtful take on the phenomenon. Are these the things were used to call fairies, hags, succubuses, imps, etc.? Or are these manifestations caused by deceivers, like fallen angels? Anyway, I am hoping to write a real thrill ride to the Apocalypse, so wish me luck!

Life on the Eastern Shore

I guess the thing to do is to break up some of my posts into individual thoughts so folks can comment on specific items. My post today is reflective, given its Sunday. I grew up in rural Somerset County, five miles from the county seat of Princess Anne. All I knew when I was a kid was the fields and woods within walking distance of my house, going to school, and the occasional trip to Princess Anne or the rare trip to Salisbury. The community I grew up in, Mt. Vernon, was small, only a few hundred folks, and vehicle traffic was low. I can remember that a many folks walked from place to place. We had no car when I was growing up, so I walked a lot also, or rode my bike.
Nowadays, cars are everywhere. Nobody walks except for exercise and traffic is really bad. I live near Salisbury now, and there are so many people trying to get into town from the West Side, that I am surprised there are not more accidents. When I was in my late teens, the only traffic jam was near the college when Dresser Wayne let out its afternoon shift and College avenue was jammed with school traffic and worker traffic. Now, a jam is liable to occur anywhere, but College Avenue still seems to be the worst.
I guess its all progress, but I think that every other time I go over to the north end to WalMart, there is a traffic accident on Rt. 13. People drive in seemingly illogical patterns. I guess its like my cousin used to say: Drive like Hell, you'll get there faster. The tradeoff is more shopping selections. 30 years ago, when I was in my early 20's, you had to go to Baltimore or Dover to find a good selection of places to shop. I read a lot, both books and comics then, plus played board wargames, and there was only one bookstore in Salisbury then, plus the racks at drug stores. It was a treat to head up to Baltimore to visit my aunt so Icould hit the Golden Ring Mall (its gone now) which had two bookstores.
Would I trade all these conveniences, plus modern technology like computers and the Internet for the way things were 30 years ago? Boy, what a choice.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Welcome to the Scribe of the Eastern Shore Blog!

I want to thank Doug Arvidson for urging me to start this blog. While he thought it would be a great tool for me as a writer, I think it has more potential as an alternate forum away from some of the other Eastern Shore blogs. A lot of them concentrate on politics, and while there is nothing wrong with that, sometimes things get a little heated and at least one blog got in trouble in Salisbury, so that's why I am asking for civility. Also, I am welcoming everybody here, because I think everybody's point of view is unique and valuable, whether I agree with it or not. So, whether you voted for Obama and Kratovil or McCain and Harris, you are welcome. If you are a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, or atheist, you are welcome. If you believe in ghosts or not, Bigfoot or not, UFOs or not, you are welcome. If you like history, especially military history, pulps, comic books, science fiction, alternate history, horror, or not, you are welcome.
Let me give you a little background on me, then it's time for comments. First, I was born here on the Eastern Shore in Somerset County, Maryland. After graduating college, I knocked around several jobs before working for the State. As most of you know, Maryland State employees are getting some furlough time. I was around during the last round of furloughs, and it beats being laid off, like a lot of the folks I interview on the other side of the desk from me. I feel really bad for them, because some of them have never had to ask for assistance before. Anyway, that's my day job, and because I get to help people in need, its very rewarding most of the time, but the paperwork is mind-numbing at times, even with computers.
What I do in my spare time is write. I have been writing since I was in high school, but up til the late 1990's, most of what I wrote was either published in fanzines or low paying small print run niche magazines for wargames or treasure hunting. Luckily, around the year 2000, I got tapped by Steve Rawling to write for his new magazine. Against the Odds ( He liked what I was turning out, so I got some extra assigments. After five issues, he decided to offer me editorship, and so I got to edit the magazine and still write a regular column eight years later. It has been a definite learning experience and the editing has helped my writing tremendously.
OK, this is getting long winded. Anyway, on the strength of my work for ATO, I got my foot in the door at Cambridge Books, right here on the Shore in Cambridge Maryland, where I spun a book about treasure hunting on the Eastern Shore. It got picked up and copies of Treasures of the Eastern Shore have been sold all over the country and even in Europe. My next book, Mysteries of the Eastern Shore, was a bigger hit because it was full of paranormal encounters with ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs and more that I had come across over the years. I had so many ghost stories left over that in 2008, I came out with Ghosts of the Eastern Shore, and it has been very popular.
In addition to my Eastern Shore series, I also wrote a vampire novel Crimson Need, set around Salisbury, and co-wrote Images of America: Wicomico County, available from Arcadia Books. Right now, I am working on a couple of novel ideas, plus gathering more ghost stories for another in my Eastern Shore series. Anyway, here I am, I'll try to post daily, and I welcome your thoughts, comments, and anything else you want to discuss.
Right now I am up to my ears in Paranormal research. I am looking at the whole UFO phenomenon and whether it is distinct from other paranormal events like ghosts, demons, and fairies, or is a modern manifestation of an ancient problem. Another manifestation of this business is Bigfoot. Real or not, people are seeing things and I am trying to figure out what's really going on here? Aliens, angels and demons, denizens of Atlantis or Mu, or just people's overactive imagination combined with hoaxer and disinformation from the government to cover up clandestine operations? What do you think?