Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bill Raetz and the World Espionage Bureau

I’ve quickly found out that being an editor of a webzine has a very nice (and obvious) perk -- reading all the great work firsthand. Author Bill Raetz has graciously allowed me to spotlight an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, NO BLOOD, NO FOUL, that will appear on Beat to a Pulp at the end of February. This is the first I’ve read of Bill’s work and based on this chapter, I’m looking forward to its March 1st release. It’s also piqued my interest in his earlier novel, The Lie Detector. What a great pulp cover! You can find out more about Bill Raetz’s books at the World Espionage Bureau.

BTAP is still taking submissions. Email:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Dumb Factor by Sandra Seamans

What are you doing here?! Our friend Sandra has a story called The Dumb Factor at A Twist of Noir. I'm zipping over to check it out myself...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

My two lines are hot off the laptop and may still need a final polish, but here goes:
Patty’s bleating always gets under my skin and, even though I know better, I can't help dishing out a little dig at my husband’s sniveling princess, “That's something you will have to live with.”

Her fury explodes. She lunges at me full force, grabbing my collar, screaming, “Where is he?!”
This is from a short with a working title, The Missing Husband of Mildred Malloy. In this particular scene, an elderly woman is confronted by her stepdaughter who is suspicious after the disappearance of her father.

I made some time to read part of January’s Ellery Queen issue. From the "Passport to Crime" section comes this nugget from a gem of a story by Susanne Mischke:
It’s difficult to say how and when the tragedy began. The grip of disaster may even stretch back as far as two years ago, when Aldi had a sale on strings of Christmas lights and the Knochenhauers bought one of them and wound it around the stunted pine tree in their little front yard.
My writing this week has fallen by the wayside as I’ve been reading submissions and working on the design for Beat to a Pulp. We have some mighty impressive stories lined up for the first month with some dramatic twists, hardboiled action and western thrills. Don’t forget, if you want to submit a story, send it to

For more Two Sentence Tuesday, check out Women of Mystery...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Le General Marquis de Lafayette Medallion

My grandfather, Fred Cranmer (1904-1991), had worked a variety of jobs throughout his lifetime. Farmer. Carpenter. Ditch digger. It was his days as a ditch digger during the Great Depression when he found this medallion celebrating the centennial of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He gave it to me when I was just a kid.

I hadn't seen the medallion in years and thought it was long lost. Fortunately, my mother saves everything, and as I was rummaging through some boxes at her house, lo and behold, I found the medallion where she had placed it with all my Army coins. A nice discovery.

This little treasure is one of the few items I have from my grandfather and that makes it priceless to me. Some day, I’m sure I will send it to the college, maybe for their bicentennial in 2032. In the meantime, I'll just keep a closer eye on it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Saturday Mornings

I was a Saturday morning cartoon fanatic in the 1970’s. I couldn’t wait to plop down in front of the boob tube, tune into Bugs, Scooby, Tarzan, and soak 'em up until my mom pulled the plug, so to speak.

Though I loved all the cartoons, probably my favorite excursions were the live action dramas that came on after the animations. Does anybody else remember Ark II?

The Ark II is a futuristic, high-tech RV that carried the crew of Jonah (the leader), Ruth and Samuel (a sister and brother team), and Adam (a talking chimpanzee) across the country. The crew's mission was to right the wrongs and promote peace in a post apocalyptic world. The Ark Roamer, a jeep like vehicle, and jet packs allowed the crew to go where the Ark II couldn't take them.

The ever-expanding YouTube had a clip from the show:

After all these years, I have one question, why Jonah and not Noah?

Of course, YouTube is brilliant because one memory leads to another. Here's Isis and Shazam.

When it came to animation, Tarzan was a favorite of mine. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (36 episodes from 1976–77) was rather intelligent entertainment for Saturday morning and, in many ways, it is the most faithful adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough’s creation. This Tarzan is smart and well-spoken. His sidekick is N’kima the monkey (Cheeta is from the movies). The animation is based upon the work of Burrough's favorite Tarzan artist, Burne Hogarth, and the series featured many of the lost cities from the novels. Ok, I just read all that from Wikipedia, but from my continued "research" for this post, I watched Tarzan ‘The City of Gold’ and it was as good as I remembered it.

Yeah, it’s dated for today’s audiences but not for this big kid looking through 1970's spectacles.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New e-zine: BEAT to a PULP

After a little urging, I decided to put together an e-zine, rounding up some help from Patti Abbott, Sandra Seamans, Glenn Gray, Albert Tucher, Anonymous-9, Terrie Farley Moran, Clare Toohey, and many others who have graciously agreed to contribute stories.

Like some of the old pulps that featured a detective story on the heels of a western and a high seas adventure, I’d like to see BEAT to a PULP follow in those footsteps, running the gamut of storytelling, a smorgasbord of short story fiction at its best, though the emphasis will be on hard boiled.

I plan to set a 1,500 word limit but, let’s face it, if Stephen King sent me a 10,000 word romance between Hungarian acrobats, I’d publish it. As a matter of fact, Patti’s story is set to kick off our e-zine with a mini-masterpiece that clocks in around 4,000 words.

Expect a debut of December 15. I will keep you posted on the progress.

If you have a story you would like to submit, please send it to:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Bday, Gene Tierney

Today is Gene Tierney’s birthday which is reason enough to post a photo of the woman Darryl F. Zanuck said was, "...undeniably the most beautiful actress in movie history."

Tierney contributed to the Noir genre with many great film roles, including Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Whirlpool (1949), Night and the City (1950) and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950).

My personal favorite is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), a romantic fantasy film with Rex Harrison. Advise and Consent (1962) with Henry Fonda and directed by Otto Preminger is a late career highlight. As for her most famous role, actor Vincent Price said, "No one but Gene Tierney could have played 'Laura.' There was no other actress around with her particular combination of beauty, breeding, and mystery."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

I dug out an old short story that I had set aside, and I started reworking it this past weekend. I now see the entire story was told in the first four paragraphs, leaving a very uninteresting and anti-climatic ending. The following lines are from halfway through when a man has just killed his best friend because he found out his wife and friend were having an affair:
Finally finished, he dragged the lifeless body to the grave’s edge and pushed it in with the heel of his foot. He was filling it in when he remembered the glass eye was still on the green.
I've started reading The Playboy Book of Horror and the Supernatural, a 1967 anthology featuring heavy hitters like Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone writers, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. Two lines from Matheson's No Such Thing As A Vampire are:
Moving to the closet, Gheria drew down his bag and carried it to the bed. He tore Alexis's nightdress from her upper body, and within seconds, had drawn another syringe full of her blood: this would be the last withdrawal, fortunately.
Matheson wrote a number of Zone classics, including "Steel" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" episodes. His science fiction novel, I Am Legend (1954), has been filmed several times, most recently with Will Smith in 2007.

For more Two Sentence Tuesday, check out Women of Mystery...

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Town Monday: Another City, Not My Own

Ok, I stole that title from Dominick Dunne but it seems appropriate. I mean, I've yet to highlight my hometown in upstate NY, but I hope to do that soon.

Meanwhile, I spent a relaxing weekend writing in the town that James Lee Burke calls home in New Iberia, Louisiana (well, at least part of the time), and it was here that I managed to make some headway with two short stories and the new e-zine, Beat to a Pulp.

For an afternoon distraction, my wife mentioned going to Avery Island where Tabasco is made.

It was a nice tour. A guide gave a brief speech, showed us to a room where we watched a ten minute video, then we walked past the manufacturing lines and into a small exhibit space. We learned a lot about how peppers become the infamous hot sauce.

50 acres of Avery Island are dedicated to growing peppers. The best are selected for their seeds, which are shipped to Central and South America where the majority of the peppers for the sauce are grown.

The peppers are picked and immediately processed with salt mined from Avery Island.

The salted peppers are shipped back to Avery Island to be mashed and stored in oak barrels for three years. (These barrels come from the Jack Daniels company who use the barrels for only one year in making their whiskey. The Tabasco company uses the barrels for 21-23 years, at which point, they're broken up and sold as BBQ wood chips, flavored with whiskey and Tabasco!)

Once the pepper mash is done, it's mixed with distilled vinegar and stirred for 23 days. Only then is it ready for bottling.

The process is actually more detailed than that. If you're interested, the Tabasco website has a great video.

The iconic diamond label showing how to get there.

The main building where tours begin.

Unfortunately the manufacturing lines weren't running on Saturday.

The country store and gift shop.

Browsing the goods. Got some spicy dark chocolate and hot cinnamon mints.

Little d braves the 'wind chill.'


For other My Town Mondays, drop by Travis Erwin's site...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Wild Wild West: The Complete TV Series

What you are looking at is a grown man's refusal to let go of his inner child. I have been eyeballing The Wild Wild West dvds for the past couple of years and finally went ahead and bought the whole kit and caboodle... all four seasons packaged together. And what's great about this collection is that it includes the TV reunion movies, The Wild Wild West Revisited (1979) and More Wild Wild West (1980). As I see it, I'm doing my part to help stimulate the economy. Ninety smackeroos for the boxed set.

Watching this show as a kid, I was of course mesmerized by all the gadgets and stunts of Jim West (Robert Conrad), but now I can appreciate the interplay with and significance of West's partner, Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin). I've only just begun watching, and I'm curious to see how long my wife can stay tuned since this isn't her cup of tea. But I expect to be highly entertained for all 85 hours.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh

Death in Ecstasy gets off to a running start when journalist Nigel Bathgate, a parallel to Sherlock's Watson, is bored enough to stop by the controversial church, House of the Sacred Flame.
She raised the cup to her lips. Her head tipped back and back until the last drop must have been drained. Suddenly she gasped violently. She slewed half round as if to question the priest. Her hands shot outwards as though she offered him the cup. Then they parted inconsequentially. The cup flashed as it dropped to the floor. Her face twisted into an appalling grimace. Her body twitched violently. She pitched forward like an enormous doll, jerked twice and then was still.
This is the catalyst that brings Bathgate's friend Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn of New Scotland Yard on the scene. Alleyn is a gentlemanly detective in the vein of Lord Peter Wimsey. He’s not as eccentric as some of the sophisticated detectives of the golden age but that’s what gives him a modern edge. With his mini pre-CSI team in tow, Detective-Inspector Fox, his assistant; Detective-Sergeant Bailey, the fingerprint expert and Dr. Curtis, the surgeon, Alleyn is determined to solve the case of who killed Cara Quayne.

The question in Ecstasy is classic: Who had access to the communion that killed the victim and what’s the motive? It’s immediately clear everybody had a motive and ability. If you don’t enjoy the classic set-ups, then you might not care for this story. But I like the old style and I thought the way Marsh devoted a chapter to each potential murderer and offered plenty of clues and red herrings was entertaining.

Early crime stories like Ecstasy often included a list of the characters involved in the case at the beginning. This roll call is a blessing for someone like me who has never been the most adept at remembering dozens of names and their occupations and connections. Another nice touch is a drawing of the murder scene and a quaint illustration of two scraps of burnt paper that Detective-Inspector Fox fished out from an ash tray with tweezers. These little touches were probably unnecessary but helped to spice up the storytelling.

I spotted this 1943 edition of Death in Ecstasy in a used bookstore. The dust cover is in tatters and will crumble if I’m not careful. A message on the back explains: This book is printed on thinner paper in accordance with a ruling of the War Production Board and the wartime need to conserve materials and manpower. I will probably find a archival sleeve to store it in to preserve any farther damage.

Ngaio Marsh is regarded as one the four original "Queens of Crime" along with Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers. These talented writers ruled crime fiction beginning in the 1920s. More information on Marsh can be found here and here.

For more Friday’s Forgotten Books, check out Patti Abbott’s blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday night musings

My cyber travels this week brought me to "Rupture" by Glenn Gray over at Powder Burn Flash. This story has great pacing and you can always count on terrific dialog from Gray. However, it's the imagery in this piece that really steals the show...

I've previously blogged about the latest Yellow Mama issue and I just finished reading all the stories. It's not that I'm a slow reader but when something is good I love to savor it. I still haven't finished A Hell of a Woman or Big Book of Pulps because they are so darn good. Oh, and I've just been handed The Playboy Book of Horror and Supernatural to add to the pile. This collection contains stories from John Collier, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and Robert Bloch. I will be happily reading it for the next year. Ok, I'm rambling. All the stories in Yellow Mama are excellent, and several weeks after reading it, "Il Pagliaccio Morto" by Cindy Rosmus and her character, Baci, is still sticking with me. Check it out and look for Cindy in the upcoming Out of the Gutter with her prize winning story "All Gone"...

I have been hooked on Sandra Seaman's work after her "Savior Self" appeared on Shred of Evidence. She now blogs regularly and has brought to our attention three new e-zines: A Twist of Noir, Bad Things, and Crooked. As she mentioned, it's nice to see e-zines rising from the ashes. Speaking of which, I have decided to start one myself. It will be called Beat To A Pulp and will debut December 15. It will be in the vein of Muzzle Flash and feature one story at a time, updated weekly. I will have more information on this soon and a place to submit stories... Gotta go. Time to finish my review of a Ngaio Marsh novel for tomorrow's forgotten books.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Spirit Femmes Fatales

My first encounter with The Spirit was in The Mammoth Book of Crime Comics in a story titled, "The Portier Fortune." I became an instant fan, learning what most comic followers already knew: Will Eisner is deserving of the overly used word “genius.” I just finished The Spirit Femmes Fatales which only reinforced my appreciation for Eisner’s work.
Denny Colt, a young criminologist, believed to have lost his life in a fight against crime, was buried in a state of suspended animation. He awoke one day in Wildwood Cemetery, determined to carry on his struggle... his true identity known only to Police Commissioner Dolan. He is feared by criminals of all stripes as the Spirit!
For a guy who’s supposed to be dead, the Spirit certainly has a lot of women troubles. The rogues’ gallery consists of Silk Satin, Madame Minx, Pantha Stalk, Powder Pouf, Lorelei Rox, Plaster of Paris, Dulcet Tone, Silken Floss M.D., Wild Rice, Saree, Nylon Rose and P’Gell...

“I am P’Gell and this is NOT a story for little boys!!” is how the best vixen of the bunch introduces her story, "Meet P’Gell." Just how seductive and alluring is the femme fatale? In "Portier Fortune," a father asks about sex of his newborn child, and then the baby responds, “P’Gell,” to which the doctor replies, “Then it’s a boy!!”

Ellen Dolan, the commissioner’s daughter, is the Spirit’s long suffering girlfriend, and she has her work cut out for her with competition from all these dames, in particular the sexy Silk Satin, a somewhat reformed criminal who still leans toward the other side of the law.

A few tender moments with Ellen and Silk aside, The Spirit is a laugh-out-loud comic. Who wouldn’t love the slapstick comedy in the style of The Three Stooges when Denny Colt and other characters get whacked over the head, booted in the rear or fall down a flight of stairs? Or the sharp wit, as when a man with a knife sticking through his shirt says to the Spirit, “Er, sorry to bother you, but this is the fourth time today this has happened! I’m beginning to suspect foul play.”? And not to mention, as with most comics, the plain absurdities? Our hero never takes off his mask even when he goes undercover in other disguises. He shows up in an operating room wearing a surgeon’s mask and leaving on his trademark eye mask. And though he appears to be killed over and over, he always returns in time to save the day.

One caveat, modern audiences may be surprised by stereotyped role of Ebony, the Spirit’s sidekick. A Wikipedia entry posted an explanation and defense of the character:
Eisner is sometimes criticized for his depiction of Ebony White, the Spirit's African American sidekick. He later admitted to consciously stereotyping the character, but said he tried to do so with "responsibility", and argued that "at the time humor consisted in our society of bad English and physical difference in identity." The character developed beyond the stereotype as the series progressed, and Eisner also introduced black characters (such as the plain-speaking Detective Grey) who defied popular stereotypes.
The Spirit Femmes Fatales hooked me and I will be diving into more of Will Eisner’s engrossing noir-inspired comic creation. After all, I know I must have missed half the fun as the original series matured over its twelve year run. Also I need to fill my vicarious thrills quota as he dates all those beautiful women and paints the town red. What a life!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

So, here goes... I’m throwing my hat into the Two Sentence Tuesday arena...

“Mr. Phanschmidt, I'm dying very slowly, a little too slowly for my tastes. Eventually Jackie will inherit my wealth and the headaches that go with it, including unfortunate business like you.”

This is from a rough draft with the working title of An Old Address. When it’s finished I plan to send it into Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which may be a bit optimistic of me, but for a very specific reason, this is the only place where I can submit it.

As far as reading, I’ve been immersing myself in westerns lately because of a noir-style western that I'm working on. Currently I’m reading The Big Westerner by Robert Easton, Seminole Showdown by Jon Sharpe and Border Guns by Eugene Cunningham. The following is from Border Guns:

In the few remaining miles that separated him from Rawles and whatever might lie in wait there for him, Ross passed four or five riders who eyed him aslant, nodded very gravely, stared thoughtfully at his long limbed black, and fox-trotted past him. Men of varying ages, from twenty, perhaps, to forty, were these, but whatever their years might number, they were alike in the careless roughness of their clothing, in a certain grim watchfulness and wolfish alertness of barren.

I would like to thank Clare of Women of Mystery for the invitation to join the Two Sentence Tuesday fun.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Town Monday: Last of the Rayne

This post ends my MTM look at the amazing town of Rayne, Louisiana. A quick recap from previous entries: Rayne is known as the Frog capital of the world and stands out with all its frog murals gracing many of the city's building. Along one of the main streets is a cemetery facing the wrong direction that made Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It was the site of one of the country's WWII POW camps. To top it all off, Rayne is home to several frogs who were sent into space. I didn’t blog about this last one but Rayne's Chamber of Commerce explains all about our little green friends going where no other frog has gone before.

So, what's left? Why, the annual Frog Festival, of course! Little d and I had been waiting all year for the frog derby and jumping contest. We were disappointed when the September festival was postponed because of Hurricane Gustav, mainly because we weren't sure if we'd still be in town for the new November dates. But we're still here, and we happily spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the fun-filled event. There was a midway with plenty of rides (we opted for the ferris wheel), games and food. We missed the early morning frog derby *Groan!* but we were able to catch the live Cajun music, an arts and crafts show, and a big parade. Here are a few pics:

Click here for other My Town Monday posts on Travis Erwin's site...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Order OOTG's Revenge Issue

Out of the Gutter has just announced the release date for the Revenge issue. I hope everyone zips over and orders a copy. If you order before November 21, they promise you can get it for "less than the cover price!"

With so few avenues left for writers these days, it’s really important to support these publications.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday’s Forgotten Books: The Saint in New York by Leslie Charteris

While most avid readers of crime fiction know The Saint is the work of author Leslie Charteris, a talk with some friends and coworkers who aren’t as keen on crime novels uncovered that The Saint is not well known beyond the 1997 movie with Val Kilmer. Only a few had heard of the 60’s TV show with Roger Moore. And so, I thought I’d review The Saint in New York.
“Pardon me. In the excitement of the moment, and all that sort of thing, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m afraid I’ve had you at a disadvantage. My name is Templar—Simon Templar”—he caught the flash of stark hypnotic fear that blanched the big man’s lips, and grinned even more gently. “You may have heard of me. I am the Saint.”
Simon Templar befriends wealthy American, William Valcross, whose son was murdered in the Big Apple. He’s given an offer he can't refuse: a million dollars to go to New York and bring the killer to justice. But it’s no easy task with the corruption that pervades the city’s judicial system. He cleans up the graft by eliminating men from the mafioso’s hierarchy, meticulously working his way to the top to find out the identity of the "The Big Fellow" who is controlling the city.

What struck me about reading this early entry in the series is Simon Templar’s hard-edge. Halfway through the story, he has already killed three gangsters and hijacked a taxi to escape from the police. In the short story adventures from the 1950s and early 60s that I’ve read, Templar is more mild-mannered, almost a gentlemanly Christie style sleuth. Comparatively, this younger version of the Saint kicked some major ass.

But Templar’s chutzpa seemed to be intact from the start. He dresses as a nun to elude the police and kidnaps a detective to convince him they are working toward the same goal. Templar brazenly sends his famous haloed stick figure logo to announce his arrival to the opposition. His employer Valcross asks him why he would do this, making his job even harder. The Saint replies:
“It goes back to some grand times—of which you’ve heard,” he said quietly. “The Saint was a law of his own in those days, and that little drawing stood for battle and sudden death and all manner of mayhem. Some of us live for it—worked for it—fought for it. One of us died for it….There was a time when any man who received a note like I sent to Irboll, with that signature, knew there was nothing more he could do. And since we’re out on this picnic, I’d like things to be the same—even if it’s only for a little while.”
This is the first full-length Saint novel that I’ve read, but I had no problem starting here because Charteris ingeniously updates readers in the first chapter with a letter from Scotland Yard warning the New York police chief of his suspicion that the Saint is in town. The letter conveniently rehashes all of the Saint’s adventures from the beginning.

If I had one complaint, it would be that Charteris seemed to pad the story a bit by repeating similar circumstances. In particular, he has to contend with too many villains on his way to the top kingpin. Also, we are reminded a bit too often that the handsome Simon Templar has sparkling blue eyes!

These small gripes aside, this novel is a lot of fun. Charteris had an ability to write with effortless charm similar to the later Ian Fleming. The Saint in New York is highly recommended.

Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Patti Abbott's site...

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Town Monday: Life in West Africa

Mr. Boh wrote this piece over a year ago when he was actively looking for a job. He tells of the trials and tribulations in securing a position in his country. Despite all the difficulties getting through the bureaucratic red tape and corruption, we are happy to know that he was successful in this search. At the end, he's sent along some pictures of himself and his colleagues.

Getting a job is Cameroon is like forcing the camel through the eye of a needle. It has always been a very difficult task. Most often, before vacancies are published, those to fill them had already been selected and at times already working. This is a common practice with the private sector whose employees make sure that the office is filled by blood brothers or brothers from the same village or tribe. This "kanka" worm has eaten deep into the society that even public examinations are not corrected regarding merit but on who pays in how much to which minister or authority. Examination scripts are corrected in terms of which minister has sent in what list with how many names. However, there are still a few hopefuls like foreign embassies that recruit based on merit.

Recently the US Embassy in Cameroon launched a job opening for a driver for their motor pool and not less than 300 persons applied. A month later 15 candidates were short-listed for the interviews. I happen to have been one of the candidates short-listed. We did the interviews each at a time and at the end, it was announced that a selected few would still be called up for the driving test. Three weeks have gone by, still no appointment to any of us and still the vacancy remains.

While we continue to wait in agony, I stopped by a cyber cafe to check my email, and as I opened my inbox I had so many emails but one caught my attention; it was labeled "Your application for employment". I hurriedly opened that mail and it was
from the Kingdom of the Netherlands' Embassy in Cameroon. It was just to inform me that they did not have an immediate opening for a driver at their embassy and to wish me well in my search for one. This was an application that had been deposited since the month of March.

Similarly, UNESCO had sent me a mail through the post office in response to an application I submitted in their office. Theirs said they were sorry to inform me
that after the driving test conducted in their office I was not retained meanwhile I never participated in any test organised by the UNESCO office in Cameroon. This is just one case in a million. Before the vacancy was launched someone's brother was already working in that post. Their publication of that vacancy was just to tell the world that they are not involved in the corruption thing here in Cameroon. How do they stay safe from corruption when they have left the recruitment of their local staff in the hands of Cameroonians; remember Cameroon has been classified two times world champions in corruption.

Recently the US Ambassador to Cameroon, His Excellency Niels Marquard, single handedly lead the anti-corruption struggle with threats like having to curb the good existing trade relations between Cameroon and the US. The President of the Republic was forced to track down and arrest a few government ministers charged with embezzlement and corruption and they are presently serving a jail term in the Yaoundé central prison in 'KONDENGUI'.

This was the first giant step ever taken and it is hoped that in a few more decades to come, Cameroon would be like other economies of the world with jobs available for all classes of people.

G4S (Group 4 Secoricor) employs about 5000 Cameroonians and is ranged about the third largest employer in the country now; recently, they dramatically changed their recruitment policy; to be a common guard now with this company, one has to be a holder of the GCE Ordinary level (General Certificate of Education). Just a decade ago, this job was reserved only for the under schooled persons, i.e. those who have
not even completed elementary education and have nothing more like a certificate to show in addition to their birth certificates. Now that even University graduates come crowding at the gates of G4 company during recruitment they have automatically changed their policy. This was just to justify how much it is difficult to secure a job here in the country. [07 September 2007]

Click here for other My Town Monday posts on Travis Erwin's site...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The White House Box of Chocolates

With the election coming up, I thought I would repost something I did for another website last December after a good friend had gone to the White House and brought back a small, official box of White House chocolate.

At the time I wondered, “Should I open it or not?” with the idea that perhaps it could become a collector’s item and it would be better to leave the box intact.

Well, almost a year later, I still have not opened it, and the candy has sat on the shelf in a confined apartment in the Virginia summer heat while I've been away on assignment.

I’m guessing by now the chocolate tastes like a standard stale M&M, and I think it may be time to get rid of the candy inside. But I’m still rather hesitant to open and ruin the box.

Well, maybe if I’m lucky, the ants have already taken care of the dilemma for me, but I’ll have to wait until I get home to find out.

Ok, a silly post for sure but what would you do?

Sidebar: Little d and I went to Walgreen's last night and bought some candy corn and miniature Reese's peanut butter cups -- not for trick or treaters (we're staying in a hotel and didn't expect any), this was for us, and let me tell you, without any adult supervision we ate too much and are feeling three pounds heavier already.