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Pigs. Hogs. Sounders. And Litters.

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 11/17/2023

Persevere show art Persevere

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's KIR, Cam Marston wonders if he could do the same thing for fifteen years and know, just know in his bones, that it would pay off. ----- I’ve just watched the documentary on Steve Martin called "Steve! A Documentary in Two Pieces." I’ve always liked Steve Martin. What caught my attention the most is that he did his standup act for fifteen years. The vast majority of that time, his audiences were very small. In one video clip, he’s counting the number of people in the room during his act – there were fifteen people there. He got what he thought were big breaks that bombed,...

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April's Fool show art April's Fool

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston hypothesizes on what a parenting podcast from him and his wife would sound like. ----- My wife and I sat together at the beach last week laughing as we retold stories and reminded ourselves of the humor of parenting. Especially as Gen X parents. We decided to compose a social media post together. The date was April first, and that date matters. The post read the following: We are frequently asked how we’ve raised four perfect children. Here’s our response: We are excited to announce our new Parenting Podcast called Gen X Parenting Tools. Go check...

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Workplace Veterans show art Workplace Veterans

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston has some observations about the NCAA tournament. The old guys are winning, and he likes that. ----- Someone in my family is not pleased right now. As I write this Wednesday, I don’t know who. Last night the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA tournament. My wife is a Carolina grad. I was unaware people could like basketball that much until I met her. My son is a Freshman at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He was an avid sports fan moments after his birth. One of them lost last night and is...

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Need A Message show art Need A Message

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam is searching for a message and if he hears one, he WILL obey. ----- I think there is someone or something out there trying to send me a message. A few things have happened lately that seem, well, like there is a message coming or attached but I don’t know what it is. First, storms rolled through a few months ago knocking out the power. Fortunately our house has a generator attached and it kept a few rooms running for a little while. My friends began texting about their power being out. I proudly texted a photo of my comfortable and well-lit kitchen that...

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Tell Them Both I Said Hello show art Tell Them Both I Said Hello

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

There's a grocery store Cam goes to when he's in a hurry. It's NOT the one closest to his house. That one is full of memories. Full of roots. ----- I saw him see me. He turned and headed my way. “Cam,” he said. “How’s you mother?” “Well,” I said. “She passed away two years ago.” I saw you at her funeral, I wanted to say. I remember talking to you. “Oh. Yes. That’s right. I’m sorry. Well then, how’s your father?” “Dad’s wonderful. He plays pickleball five, sometimes six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. He’s eighty-seven but I don’t think he knows it....

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Parent's Weekend show art Parent's Weekend

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On today's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares something he saw last weekend that made him feel a little bit better about things. ----- I'm in Starbucks. It's Saturday. It's Noon. I'm in Tuscaloosa at the corner of Bryant Drive and 8th Avenue. Sororities across the street disgorging young ladies for their morning cups of honey-dew latté with extra chai, extra vanilla essence and a dash of bumble bee eyelashes or something like that. Yoga pants as far as the eye can see. One girl wearing a T-shirt reading Don’t Date Frat Boys. Parents here for fraternity and sorority parent’s weekend. Dads wearing...

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Forgiveness show art Forgiveness

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares a story he's kept quiet for fourteen years. It's time to get it off his chest. ----- I’ve just boarded my flight. I’m headed home. Sitting here, a memory has resurfaced. Many years ago, deplaning in Chicago, I took a call from a young man. He’d studied my work and asked me to mentor him. He wanted to travel and give speeches. He wanted me to refer him when I was too busy, and he’d pay me a commission. He loved my topic and said he could represent me well. I was deeply flattered. He charmed me. A few months later, we sat at my dining room table...

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Squeezed show art Squeezed

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam's phone has been ringing. It's a lot of his small business friends and they're experiencing similar things. They're feeling pressure. They're feeling squeezed. ----- When an orange is squeezed, orange juice comes out. We know this. We know that sun and good soil and water and maybe some fertilizer help that orange develop that juice. We know the ingredients, we somewhat control the ingredients, and we know the goodness that comes from a squeezed orange. What happens, though, when you and I are squeezed? What happens when life puts pressure on you and me? What ingredients are we drawing on...

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Lent show art Lent

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make. ----- Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level. As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association...

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Dry January show art Dry January

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions. ----- Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen. The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a...

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Some swine content before your Thanksgiving ham.

-----

This is about pigs. Hogs, too. Sounders. Litters. And it’s timely since many of you, like me, accompany the Thanksgiving turkey with a ham. So, let’s have a quick chat about the magic that is pigs, hams, hogs, and other swine-related stuff.

Next week I’ll spend part of the Thanksgiving break in the woods of Clarke County, Alabama. If the weather is nice, my Thanksgiving meal will be on the porch of my father’s camp breaking bread around 1pm with my wife and kids, my brothers, their wives and kids, and my father. It’s what we do. There will be a ham there.

In the woods nearby will be hogs. Wild ones. And if I understand the story correctly, some of them are descendants of the hogs the first explorers to the Americas tossed out on islands as they came through. The explorers were preparing for return trips to Europe and put hogs on the islands knowing they’d survive because they can and will eat nearly anything and they’d multiply. When the explorers came back through on their way back home, they provisioned with some fresh pork. Some of the hogs that were left behind found their way to the continental US and the ones rooting the woods of Clark County, Alabama could be long descendants of those founding father pigs. Columbian pigs. Mayflower pigs. And I think that’s pretty cool.

But admiring wild hogs in Alabama is taboo. They’re hell on property and no farmer or landowner has anything good to say about them. They are, however, a remarkable species. They survive and they propagate regardless of their environment or circumstances. They’re a mammalian kudzo. They drop multiple litters each year of as many as ten piglets. Controlling them is nearly impossible, as any hunter or landowner or farmer can attest. As an animal, they’re full of vulnerabilities, allowing all kinds of prey to feed on them yet, they thrive.

And they’re tasty. Pork loins are delicious. I once ordered a blue cheese stuffed pork chop at K-Pauls in New Orleans and nearly fainted in bliss. I returned, and ordered it again the next night and had it many times until K-Pauls shut their hallowed doors three years ago. I used to genuflect when I went in.

And then there’s the ham that we will pull from Thanksgiving Day. Magically cut in circles. The kids love it. They fill their plates. The ham has that iridescent sheen that glimmers in the light. Exactly why ham glimmers and forms rainbows like spilled petroleum is unclear. I don’t want to know. It must be God’s will.

Later on Thanksgiving Day, after we’ve cleaned up and after I’ve curled up around my packed belly for an afternoon nap, I’ll step into the woods with a rifle, hoping to take down a distant cousin of the ham I’ve just eaten. Whose ancestor may have hitched a ride on the Niña, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria a long time ago. It’s all a bit gross and weird and magical all at the same time.

And that’s all I got to say about that.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real. Happy Thanksgiving.