Saturday, November 30, 2013

In the immortal words of John Scalzi, "Flooooba gunna, dudes."

With that, I am officially signing off from this year's National Novel Writing Month. Eighty-seven thousand words in one month? Wow. That was quite the crunch. Now, quite a bit of it was easier than it may sound since I went back and started rewriting Lighthouse Boy from the ground up, albeit with the already-existing eight chapters to guide me. But still, that's quite probably the most writing I've done in a single month. It's almost double my previous best month, May 2014, when I did 44K words. And I got GhostCop's first draft done, so I can't forget that!

Rest for the weary? No such thing. I'll probably scale back my daily quota on Lighthouse Boy to 1250 words a day, so as to give me time to start the other writing project I set for December 1: the first editing pass through Princesses In SPACE!!!: The First Of Many Sequels. I've already been thinking a lot about this, and I have some ideas that I know I'll need to execute, in addition to simply cleaning up some very rough spots in the writing. The work never stops! My goal remains to have Princesses II in the hands of beta-readers no later than kickoff of the Super Bowl. And then, the day after the Super Bowl? I start the first editing pass though on GhostCop!

Now, I have no real sense for how long Lighthouse Boy is going to be right now. I'm thinking I might well go for broke on this one, since I intend it to be a single-volume tale. My upper target for both Princesses books (and likely all of them to come) was 180K in first draft, but for Lighthouse Boy, I'm thinking of setting 240K as my upper limit (depending on where the story takes me, of course). Yes, these are long-ish books. But they're the books I want to write, and I will roll the dice accordingly.

As for publishing, well...there is no news to report on that at all. Rejections continue to dribble in, and queries continue going out. But if and when I do decide to self-publish, I know two things: It will likely be toward the end of next year, and Princesses I will be first out of the gate. My commitment remains that this is not a "practice book", and that this story will get out there, one way or another.

As ever, onward and upward! Zap! Pow!!

Why yes, writing is exciting! #AmWriting

(Mr. Scalzi's quote from my post title comes from here.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

On whining about other people's content

I've been thinking about this post by SamuraiFrog the other day:

Yesterday was Illinois' first big snowfall of the season. The one that always seems to come out of nowhere and take everyone by surprise, because at first it's just tiny flakes that don't accumulate, and then suddenly it's several inches of thick, wet snow blowing so hard that you can barely see.

I hate the snow. I have for a long time. And one of the things that's come out of that is that when I try to complain about it online, over here, in my teeny space on a vast internet, someone always has to go out of their way to come over here and look at a post I've written about hating the snow and dismissively write "I love the snow!"

I. Don't. Care.

It only pisses me off more to see that. I'm not trying to start an open discussion. I'm exorcising my frustration. The whole point of writing about it is to get out my anxiety and all of the bad feelings I have about this particular weather phenomenon, and you've just come along and invalidated all of it with your self-serving, dismissive comment. I don't care if you love the snow. It has no bearing on my life at all. And guess what? My hating is has no bearing on yours, either. If you love the snow, write about it on your own blog and don't bother me with it.

Almost as if guided by the hand of Fate, within a day or two some guy's rant about people posting photos of snow popped up and went a bit viral.

Now, SamuraiFrog isn't saying the same thing as this guy. In fact, he's saying quite the opposite: you should be able to feel free to post whatever the heck you want to post about, and I've noticed the exact same phenomenon many times in my own blogging and posting to various places. Disagreement is all well and good, but there are times when it's clear that someone is basically along for the ride just because they like disagreeing with stuff. That gets irritating.

What the anti-snow pic guy is doing, however, is something else: he's making a blanket statement about what people should or should not post, so as to not "clog up his timeline". Thing is, he's not alone in doing this. I see it all the damn time on Facebook and Twitter, and it's incredibly obnoxious. Frankly, I find that sort of thing orders of magnitude more obnoxious than the sudden onslaught of snowpics or whatever in the first place, to the extent that when someone says "We get it, Buffalo, you can stop posting pictures of snow now, we all know what snow looks like," my impulse is to immediately take, and post, six new photos of snow.

Before I even saw that guy's rant, people I know on various social networks were bitching about the inevitable flood of snow photos (right about the same time we got our first real snowfall of the year). But that wasn't the first instance. Right now, there are these things called "Bitstrips" that are popular on Facebook. You can create a little comic-strip-looking avatar that resembles you, and then put your avatar into little situations and post them. Harmless...but after a few days of this, out came the "You people need to stop posting the Bitstrips" snark. And someone is always posting to complain about people posting pictures of their meals. (I am guilty as charged.) Or for taking "too many selfies". (I am likely guilty as charged.) Or for too many cut pet photos. (I am guilty as charged.)

Snow photos? Yes, I'm guilty as charged. Bitstrips? A-ha! No Bitstrips from me. I started using the app one day and decided that I had better things to do with my time. But do I bitch about other people using them? Nope.

After a mini-flood of such complaints on Twitter, I got irritated, because it seems to me that there are classes of photos on Twitter and Facebook that it's OK to bitch about, and others that are just as common that the bitchers-that-be seem to have collectively decided are A-OK. I created the hashtag #UbiquitousPhotosNobodyBitchesAbout and Tweeted the following:

Now, I can't say that I'm as pure as the snow when it comes to this sort of bitching. I've done it myself, although I do try to resist the impulse when it arises. It used to be, for example, that Twitter was nearly unusable to me every single time the Sabres had a game, because a pretty solid chunk of people I follow are locals who are also big Sabres fans who like to tweet their stream-of-consciousness color commentary about each hockey game. However, when I'm on the Web, the Twitter client I use (Tweetdeck) has pretty good filters that allow me to pretty much keep anything with the word "Sabres" in it from appearing in my feed. This cuts out a lot of the noise. Sometimes I still slip up and throw in a "Quit talking about the Sabres!" jab, though. Hey, nobody's perfect.

When you come down to it, bitching about what people post on social networks is rather like going to each individual table in your high school cafeteria and demanding that everyone at each table only discuss the topics you want to hear discussed. It's not reasonable, it's not realistic, it's a waste of time, and when people do it a lot, I end up wondering just how narcissistic they really are, going through life with the real expectation that people will tailor their utterances and social media postings to their liking. Because when you get down to it, people are pretty much all the same. Back in the days before the Internet you would get to work in the morning and talk about...your kids and your pets. That awesome new recipe you had for dinner the night before. Your recent trip to Disneyland. We're still the same people we always were; we just have new ways of being the same people we always were.

A Solemn Promise to my Future Readers

SCI-FI/FANTASY BOOK, originally uploaded by retro-space.

Neither of the Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title) does now or ever will look like this.

Although the book does have a beastie in it that's kinda-sorta in the vicinity of that lion-ram thing....

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankfulness: I has it!

Mosaic of Thanks

Here, with my usual additions sprinkled throughout, is my updated list of things for which I am thankful. It is not exhaustive!

Cape May, Lucky Bones (restaurant in Cape May), Cheddar cheese so sharp it makes you pucker, Sesame crackers, Our azalea plant, Our ivy plant, Cats, Get Fuzzy, blogs, George Lucas, Star Wars, our dining room table, Klein screwdrivers, flashlights, William Shatner, Sela Ward, Mary Stewart's Arthurian trilogy, Miles Vorkosigan by Lois McMater Bujold, Stephen King, the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey, the hardware store in my old hometown, angle grinders, Dremel rotary tool, Star Trek, Sergei Rachmaninov, The Beatles, Van Halen, glass growler bottles for beer, baked pasta dishes, pizza (thin, Buffalo-thick or deep dish, it's all great!), cookies, Harry Potter, Guy Gavriel Kay, Space opera, Planetary Romance, Chestnut Ridge Park, big thick poetry collections, Jerry Sullivan (Buffalo News sports columnist), Instagram, my drill, Schopp and the Bulldog (Buffalo sports talk radio guys), Fried chicken, Italian sausage, that I have finally seen Les Miserables on stage and screen, that Star Wars is coming back, Harrison Ford, Canada and Canadians, the poetry of Tennyson, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Brian and Stewie on The Family Guy, Everyone who ever acted in a Harry Potter movie at all ever, Joss Whedon, steak, chess, comics, big breakfasts that leave me full until mid-afternoon, light breakfasts that take the edge off until a nice lunch, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, The Mentalist, Tasting something good at a restaurant and figuring out how to make it at home, Ice cream at the roadside place down the road, The County Fair, the farm exchange thing we joined this year, Libraries, JRR Tolkien, Route 20-A in the fall, Sandals, the scissor jack at work, Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, Once Upon a Time, Lana Parilla, Monty Python, aquariums, science museums, The Origin of Species, Cosmos, Carl Sagan, complete collections of Shakespeare (I own six, plus the one on my tablet!), thick fuzzy socks in winter, eggs, watching the Super Bowl, watching figure skating, the Olympic games, Person of Interest, Autumn Leaves Used Books in Ithaca, the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival, white peaches, getaways with The Wife, holding The Wife's hand, the second chapter of Luke, Asian Star restaurant in West Seneca (they do gluten-free really well), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Arriba Tortilla in East Aurora, Edgar Allan Poe, Firefly Cupcakes in East Aurora, discovering new authors, Liking books on the re-read that I didn't like the first time, Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Daniel Craig as James Bond, George Lazenby as James Bond, Sean Connery as James Bond, Roger Moore as James Bond, Timothy Dalton as James Bond, Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, my cell phone, my new tablet, embracing brighter colors in my wardrobe, the Burchfield Nature and Art Center, The Daughter getting better each year on her string bass, John Williams, Hector Berlioz, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Having no idea what to get The Wife for Christmas, Castle and Beckett, Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Kat Dennings, Melissa Rauch, The Big Bang Theory, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, "[knock knock knock] Penny? [knock knock knock] Penny? [knock knock knock] Penny?", A Tale of Two Cities, Thin-mint Girl Scout Cookies, Roast turkey, Chicken wings, Rum (particularly spiced), Coke, Anthony Bourdain, Rachel Maddow, Cake Boss, Nate Silver, George Carlin, Hayao Miyazaki, President Obama (on balance), Zooey Deschanel, my wok, pies in the face, pies in my face, bib overalls, Carhartt overalls, dollops of whipped cream on my overalls after getting hit in the face with a pie, cooking, Lester, Julio, Comet, writing, Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title), Princesses II: Princesses Boogaloo (not the actual title), GhostCop (not the actual title), Lighthouse Boy (not the actual title), NaNoWriMo, connecting with other writers via social networks, friends willing to read my writing, people who don't mind associating with me even with all the weirdness I bring to the table, All who read this blog, a future that feels bright, Baby Fiona, Little Quinn, The Daughter, The Wife, and this whole wild and wacky Cosmos from which we spring.

May you all, each and every single one of you, enjoy a happy Thanksgiving and may the coming year bring more things of Thankfulness than the last!

Something for Thursday (for Little Quinn)

Eight years on....

Spot the non-family member!

It's kind of a bummer that it actually will fall on Thanksgiving on occasion, as it does this year, but there's no controlling the calendar or the flow of time, no matter how we might wish to. Eight years ago today, Little Quinn departed for the final time.

He is forever a part of our lives, forever loved, forever missed, and forever remembered -- usually with more smiles than tears, but still...sometimes, the tears.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Assuming you've had the experience of eating Thanksgiving dinner at someone else's home, what's the most perplexing thing you've ever seen on the Thanksgiving table?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A night with the orchestra

The other night, The Wife and I enjoyed a too-infrequent opportunity to attend a performance of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. We count going to the BPO as one of our favorite things about living in this region, and it's a shame that we haven't been able to attend in a couple of years. But the stars aligned, in the form of a marketing person with the orchestra offering tickets in exchange for a blog post. So here's the blog post!

Kleinhans Music Hall is one of Buffalo's most iconic buildings, and it really stands apart from just about every other place in the area. There's nothing else like it. Kleinhans soars with curves that invite and pull you in. I always feel that there's something almost femininely seductive about Kleinhans. The place radiates warmth, and the sense that it exists solely to enshrine something beautiful.

The beautiful something Kleinhans enshrines is, of course, the BPO itself. The orchestra's sound is lush and luxurious. Sonically, the orchestra seems to me – if I might draw what may be a very bad metaphor – rather like dark chocolate, deeply rich and complex, built on a foundational bass that rises up and through all the other voices, into the sopranos of the violins. The orchestra's sound is particularly suited to the larger-scale orchestral works of the late Romantic period and beyond, which comprised the main portion of the program.

Attending an orchestral concert in person is always thrilling, and there are no aspects of it that I don't enjoy immensely, even the pre-concert warming-up by the musicians, during which the entire orchestra gradually filters onto the stage. In this way you get to hear tiny "previews" of the music to come as the musicians riff on portions of the scores that they either like to play a lot (or, perhaps, have slight difficulty with), and the entire room fills with more and more sound as the musicians arrive. It's also lovely to watch the camaraderie amongst the BPO members; hands are shaken, shoulders are slapped, grins are exchanged, and laughter is heard. There's always a keen sense that these aren't just professionals doing a job, but friends coming together to work their magic.

The concert led off with Georges Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody #1, which long-time readers may recall as one of my very favorite classical works ever. The Rhapsody is little more than a collection of folk tunes and drinking songs, colored by a Gypsy-feel; it's a work that contrasts lyrical song with rhythmic dance, and Maestro JoAnn Falletta conducted the work with all the vigor I expected. In truth, I was given a choice of concerts to attend, and this work's presence on the program led me to choose this one. (Last week was Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. That was not going to happen.)

The Eastern European feel of the program continued with the next two works, both composed by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok. Now, Bartok is one of the big "gaping holes" in my personal musical knowledge. Fact is, beyond the fact that he was Hungarian, I know nothing about Bartok much at all, and I have heard very little of his music – his famous Concerto for Orchestra, to name one. I've also heard several of the pieces from his Mikrokosmos for solo piano, mainly because that work was one of the prime fascinations of one of my college professors, back in the day. Here we had two works: a two-movement piece called Two Portraits (apparently written in the aftermath of a failed love affair), and a twenty-minute tone poem called Kossuth (inspired by the life of a Hungarian revolutionary and folk-hero).

For me, these works were the highlight of the program. I honestly don't know of any real reason why the music of Bartok has evaded me; certainly I haven't made any particular conscious decision to avoid Bartok. Somehow my own musical explorations have never led to him, though, and on the basis of these two dramatic and emotional works, I see that this is something I should address. Bartok does not wear his lyricism on his sleeve, but he does infuse his work with a great deal of drama, heightening the tension at key points in his scores. I'm reminded of the close of the first of the Two Portraits, a slow work featuring solo violin and the orchestra. At the end, the soloist soars to a pianissimo leading tone, almost refusing to finally settle into the resolving tonic, before ultimately doing so. The music felt like a sigh.

Kossuth, the tone poem about the revolutionary leader, is full of military clangor and sounds of march and battle. As the revolution itself – in 1848 – was unsuccessful, the work ends on a solemn tone. But this was nevertheless a sharply dramatic work that put the entire orchestra on display, particularly the low brass. As always, the orchestra's lower registers are always powerful and sonorous.

After the intermission, it was time for a complete change of pace, and I must admit that I found this programming a bit odd. After an hour of nationalistic music from Eastern Europe, our attentions turn to...Ludwig van Beethoven. This change in mood, from complex post-Romantic orchestral writing to pure Classicism, didn't really work for me – especially since the work in question, the Piano Concerto #2 (which, as the program notes indicate, is actually the first piano concerto Beethoven composed), springs from his early years, when he was still in the process of shaking off his Mozartean roots. I suppose a case can be made that the Beethoven is there to contrast with the earlier music, but in all honesty, I so enjoyed the mood of the program's first portion that to step back into classical music's mainest of mainstreams felt...I don't know. Safe, perhaps. I don't want to sound too disappointed here -- Beethoven is Beethoven, after all, even if it's from his generally less-familiar-to-casual-audiences earlier period, before he was the Beethoven of lore, the deaf composer defiantly shaking his fist at the heavens even as he sets Schiller's Ode to Joy -- but for me, the mood of this concerto clashed with the mood of the earlier works. Perhaps a Shostakovich concerto, perhaps?

Of course, the concerto was played wonderfully. The soloist was pianist Simone Dinnerstein, whose touch in this elegant concerto (yes, Beethoven could be elegant, mainly in his youth) was also elegant, classical, and restrained. I love watching pianists perform, with all their different mannerisms and ways of physically approaching the music. Vladimir Horowitz, for example, barely moved at all, and I've seen other pianists who rock and sway back and forth, and who approach the louder and more raucous parts of the scores with percussive force. Not Ms. Dinnerstein, whose motions were supple and caress-like, as though she was enticing the keyboard to sound rather than playing it. Even in the larger passages, she never seems to dominate the instrument, but exist in a kind of partnership with it. I found her absolutely fascinating to watch, as well as hear. And JoAnn Falletta's accompaniment was able and well-considered; at no point did the orchestra overpower the soloist, and instead the music formed the kind of partnership one hopes for in a concerted work.

Ms. Dinnerstein did play a short encore afterwards, in acknowledgment of her standing ovation. I have no idea what the piece was, but it was perfectly offered: a short, melodic, bravura piece that put her considerable technical skills on display.

And with that, the evening was over. Sigh.

A few random notes:

:: As a former trumpet player, I wanted to hear that section more. There are places in the Enescu when I think they can be brought forward, but I'm assuming that Maestro Falletta prefers her trumpets on the more restrained side of the ledger. Bummer, that.

:: The BPO's woodwinds play with amazing precision, especially in ensemble passages that put them on display. We're talking "Swiss clock" precision here.

:: In the "watching musicians" department, concertmaster Michael Ludwig has a way of leaning his entire body into what he's playing at key moments. Watching a great musician at work is really one of life's better pleasures.

:: College flashback: I used to be one of the guys responsible for wheeling the piano out onto the stage, and back again, during concerts. I always feel a bit of brotherhood with those fellows. I wonder if they ever find themselves suddenly gripped with the fear that they've wheeled the old Steinway too close to the edge....

:: Maestro Falletta's blouse had a glittered collar, all the way around the back. She was literally sparkling the entire time.

:: The orchestra wore black and white. Maestro Falletta wore black. The featured soloist, however – Ms. Dinnerstein – wore a stunning, brilliant gown of red and purple.

:: More musician-watching: Ms. Dinnerstein has a habit of re-tucking her hair behind her ears after each passage she plays.

:: More musician-watching: Looking at the double bass players, I am secure in my conviction that my daughter's height was a prime factor in her fourth grade music teacher's strong suggestion that she play the bass. Goodness, those fellows are tall.

:: During the intermission, with his work done for the night, the tubist remained on stage to noodle about some of his passages in Kossuth. I wonder if he really liked playing them and knew that this work could very well never turn up on a program he performs again.

:: My opinion about the Beethoven not quite fitting the earlier part of the program, which I loved? Not shared by the elderly folks seated behind me! As they returned to their seats for the Beethoven, one said, "Now the good part!" Another agreed: "I might have fallen asleep during that last thing." Too modern for their ears? Really? Kossuth was written in 1903!

:: Driving home: Downtown Buffalo is still way too dark. But that's for another post.

In short, 'twas a wonderful night with the BPO. May there be many more to come!

Monday, November 25, 2013

I finished!

And actually complete the novel. Still, I've been on fire this month, in terms of productivity. I wonder where I fall on that guy's notion that you have to do something for 10,000 hours to not suck at it? I gotta be closing in....

Sentential Links

It's that time again....

:: As long-time readers know, I just flatly oppose the filibuster, and I think the only thing Democrats did wrong yesterday was not getting rid of it completely. Majority rule is fine. It works for presidential elections, it works for the House, it works for the Supreme Court, and it works in every other country in the world. "Senate tradition" is just a euphemism for "weird historical accident," and I'd sweep the whole rulebook clean if I could. I'm keenly aware that this means the other party can do stuff if it wins elections, and that's OK. That's what elections are for. (This is my position as well. The filibuster is a nonsensical idea that didn't make sense to me even before the Republicans decided that they were going to use it for everything. And besides, it seems pretty obvious to me that the filibuster was doomed, anyway. Eliminating it would almost certainly be the very first order of business of the very next Republican-controlled Senate.)

:: For my money there's only been one truly great Thanksgiving episode. And that was the flying turkey episode of WKRP IN CINCINNATI. (Untrue! Cheers had a great one. And the one that Big Bang Theory just ran was terrific. Mad About You had a great one in which Paul and Jamie were trying to cover up the fact that the dog ate the turkey.)

:: Somehow, prior to this fall, I had NEVER seen The Sound of Music in its entirety. (I thought about writing a "sequel" to The Sound of Music in which the Baroness and Herr Detweiler escape the Nazis as well, eventually fleeing to Buenos Aires where they open up a music school for displaced German refugees, only to learn that most of them are children of Nazis...but as Sound of Music is under copyright, there's no way for me to do that except as a fanfic type of thing. Which I might, at some point, but for now, I'll file that rather perverse notion away in my head.)

:: I guess there are people who don’t roast chickens on a regular basis so the idea of a turkey is daunting, but I just don’t understand the drama.

:: This year everybody is marveling at the bizarre convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, giving us the last Thanksgivvukah for 70,000 years or so (anyway, a long time). But who is thinking about how dreary it's going to be when, Hanukkah over, Jews will have nothing to listen to but "Jingle Bell Rock" for weeks -- and no latkes to console themselves with.

:: “I’m smilin’ right now, real smug-like, ’cause I’m super-convinced that hearin’ my voice will make you happy, and not, say, close your eyes and hold the bridge of your nose between your thumb and forefinger and sit very still for a few minutes.” (God, I love Comics Curmudgeon.)

:: I don’t believe in the concept of “guilty pleasures”. Pleasure is pleasure. Don’t knock any of it (unless, that is, you get pleasure from boiling puppies. In that case, you should feel guilty as hell). If pleasure comes to you, then thank God you are able to perceive it at all; you’ve got a leg up on many many others. (I've yet to encounter anyone online -- and I've been online forever -- who does introspection as well as Sheila O'Malley. When she holds the mirror up to herself, amazing things explode from her pen.)

:: I have all the history. So if someone asks… I can say… And I nearly always have a memory or a story or a photo. (What an awful anniversary to have to mark every year. I know. Ours is in three days.)

More next week. (Maybe. I'm going to be on vacation and still plowing ahead with writing.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome

Oddities and Awesome abound! But no oddities today...just straight-up awesome.

:: Here's one of those stories I would never have thought to even consider as even being a story: a profile of Black Jack, the riderless horse used in many military funerals -- including, most famously, that of President Kennedy.

Black Jack became the caparisoned horse because he refused to do anything else. He was not suitable for riding, he wouldn’t pull anything and he refused to parade. Exasperated, they sent him off to do a funeral procession as the caparisoned horse (riderless horse in the procession). The only thing Black Jack had going for him at this point was his beauty and the fact that he was black (which is the desired color of a caparisoned horse). In his first stint as a caparisoned horse, Black Jack failed again. He was awfully mannered and failed to behave. Black Jack absolutely refused to flat walk. He pranced and danced and threw his head. He was described as “uncontrollable”.

The Army made a full apology to the family involved but the family responded that the fire in that horse equaled the fire in the loved one they were burying. To them, Black Jack was a symbol of the life that had been.

So, his job was secured. From that day forward, Black Jack , with his famous white star, walked in over 1000 funeral processions and worked for 24 years.

Absolutely fascinating tale. Read the whole thing.

:: Another amazing story about one of our greatest musicians, and the instrument he's been using for nearly his entire career. It's the tale of Willie Nelson and his guitar, Trigger.

The guitar—a Martin N-20 classical, serial number 242830—was a gorgeous instrument, with a warm, sweet tone and a pretty “mellow yellow” coloring. The top was made of Sitka spruce, which came from the Pacific Northwest; the back and sides were Brazilian rosewood. The fretboard and bridge were ebony from Africa, and the neck was mahogany from the Amazon basin. The brass tuning pegs came from Germany. All of these components had been gathered in the Martin guitar factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and cut, bent, and glued together, then lacquered, buffed, and polished. If the guitar had been shipped to New York or Chicago, it might have been purchased by a budding flamenco guitarist or a Segovia wannabe. Instead it was sent to a guitarist in Nashville named Shot Jackson, who repaired and sold guitars out of a shop near the Grand Ole Opry. In 1969 it was bought by a struggling country singer, a guy who had a pig farm, a failing marriage, and a crappy record deal.

Willie Nelson had a new guitar.

Forty-three years later—after some 10,000 shows, recording sessions, jam sessions, songwriting sessions, and guitar pulls, most taking place amid a haze of tobacco and reefer smoke and carried out with a particular brand of string-pounding, neck-throttling violence—the guitar looks like hell. The frets are so worn it’s a wonder any tone emerges at all. The face is covered in scars, cuts, and autographs scraped into the wood. Next to the bridge is a giant maw, a gaping hole that looks like it was created by someone swinging a hammer.

Most guitars don’t have names. This one, of course, does. Trigger has a voice and a personality, and he bears a striking resemblance to his owner. Willie’s face is lined with age and his body is bent with experience. He’s been battered by divorce, the IRS, his son Billy’s suicide, and the loss of close friends like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and his longtime bass player Bee Spears. In the past decade, Willie has had carpal tunnel surgery on his left hand, torn a rotator cuff, and ruptured a bicep. The man of flesh and bone has a lot in common with the guitar of wire and wood.

“Trigger’s like me,” Willie said with a laugh on a cool morning last April at his ranch by the Pedernales River. “Old and beat-up.”

Read that, too.

More next week!

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Don't forget your dying King."

I was born a little less than eight years after President Kennedy's assassination, so I don't have any direct memories of that event. But the shockwaves that event has sent through time are truly amazing to behold, even to this day. I don't know where those shockwaves lead, but it occurs to me that our country is now run by people who grew up with the knowledge that a President could be violently removed from office. That's the kind of thing that colors the world in a way that we don't often realize.

Who do I think killed President Kennedy? Does it really matter?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Something for Thursday (PERSON OF INTEREST edition)

If you're a fan of Person of Interest and also a fan of James Bond, you'll know why this is my selection this week.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Black Dickies overalls: The cool details

Years ago I was idly searching eBay and saw a pair of Dickies overalls in black. Finding overalls in black can be difficult, and the price was right, so I snapped them up. Unfortunately, they were of a kind of odd sizing, with a label indicating "XL" as opposed to the more traditional waist-and-inseam measurement, and these were just never quite there for me as an option.

Until now. I've been losing weight very slowly and very steadily over the last couple of years, with the result that I can at last get into these comfortably.

In black

Personally, I think they look kind of nifty.

And even more cool is that when I looked at them up close, I discovered that they're not a pure black, like my black Carhartt's. It turns out that these are actually a pair of Hickory-striped overalls, that the fine folks at Dickies dyed into blackness. You can see the stripes up close, which is really cool:

Detail on the black Dickies overalls. Turns out they're hickory-striped overalls dyed black! How cool is that! #overalls #Dickies #HickoryStripe

And I dig the black Dickies brand tag, which is red on every other pair of Dickies that I own (save two, on which the tag is white). These are seriously cool.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The wheel turns

There's a thing going around Facebook right now where a person will give a certain number of random facts about themselves, and if you "Like" the post, they get to give you a number, and you do the same thing. I already did mine, but last night I read another friend's, and in doing so, I had one of those rare -- vanishingly rare, painfully rare, so rare we seek them out and hold onto them when we find them as evidence that there's something greater than us in charge of it all -- moments in which I had a sense that some part of the Universe had lined up the way it was supposed to.

This friend of mine was actually my best friend, many years ago, when I was in second grade. My family lived in Elkins, WV that year, while my father taught for a year at Davis & Elkins, a college in that town. We ended up only living there a single year, and I've always kind of wondered what things might have been like had we stayed. But anyway, I had this friend, a girl who lived down the street, and for some reason, she and I had a lot of fun together. And then we moved away, and that was that. I found her again a few years back on Facebook; it's things like that which make me shake my head whenever I encounter a person who thinks that online networking is worthless.

Our teacher in second grade was a beautiful and kind woman named Sandy Pnakovich, whom I had actually sought out on Google some years back, hoping to find an e-mail address so I might drop her a line from a student she'd had in her class more than twenty years before, and whom she might not even remember. Sadly, all I found was her obituary; she died in hospice in 2002. Cancer, I assume.

Fast forward to last night, when my friend posted her "Random facts" on Facebook. I already knew that she still lived in Elkins and is a teacher in the same school district. What I did not know is that her classroom is Mrs. Pnakovich's old one. There's just something right about that. That's the way a good movie ends, you know?

Sentential Links


:: I could go on like this, but I hope the point is clear: one can seize on our differences, or celebrate the commonality. Someone suggested to me that some people seem to thrive on conflict, and I’m sure that’s true. It seems to give their life meaning, a sense of engagement. That’s not me. I have my sometimes strong opinions, and I state them, and I’m good with that. If it convinces you, or confirms what you already believe, swell. If not, oh, well. (I'm not linking Roger's post because he links me in it. Really!)

:: I have a dream. Once day I wish to return to New York City and attend an actual comic book convention.

:: It’s a funny thing, becoming really good friends with someone as an adult. I have friends whom I have known since I was three feet tall. We have grown up together. We have made it through changes, and alterations in our personalities. Oh, so once you were this way, and now you are THIS way, and let’s try to adjust. Sometimes you can’t make the adjustment. People drift apart. But I am fortunate to have friends who “knew me when”. I value continuity. But to make a friend in your thirties. A true friend. An intimate friend. I’ve only got a few of those, and I treasure those friendships so much.

:: For me, it wasn't so much about being remembered by editors as it was simply a way of connecting to the comics industry on a deeper level than just reading the books.

:: There was a period, back in the late '90s/early '00s, when I considered the notion of writing comics professionally. I did eventually realize that I'm simply not that good writing fiction, and what I'm interested in saying with my writing can be better expressed without using broad metaphors like superheroes or sci-fi or whatever. But while I was toying with the notion of becoming a pro, I used a few tactics to increase my visibility. One of which was letterhacking. (This one is linked from the one above...but both are neat, if you ever read the letters pages in comic books.)

:: NOT RANKED: the biscuits. Because even if Popeye’s wants to call the biscuits a side dish, they aren’t a side dish. They are the reason you go to Popeye’s.

:: Seriously, having this man in my corner no matter what crazy goal I have in mind has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. I don’t quite know what I did to deserve someone who puts up with the crazy…but I’m ever so happy and constantly smiling because of him.

More next week. Maybe. If you're lucky.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: Ten Really Terrific Reading Nooks.

Not a fan of a few of these (the moon-shaped bed seems odd to me, and I don't know about the one hanging over water), but most seem to me a pretty neat and creative use of space.

::  Thirty hilarious street posters. They're not all hilarious, actually, but a few of them did make me laugh. Salty language alert.

More next week!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

If I type with my forehead, my wordcount goes up faster!

The first draft of GhostCop (not the actual title) is done! #AmWriting #NaNoWriMo

This morning I finished the first draft of GhostCop (not the actual title). Into the drawer it goes; I'll edit it...oh, I don't know, sometime in late winter or early Spring. I can't say with more certainty than that, but it's kind of cool knowing that right now I have two first-draft manuscripts awaiting their first passes-through. Princesses In SPACE!!! Book II: The Quickening (not the actual title) comes first, though. I'll start that book's read-through on December 1, which is...two weeks from tomorrow! Huzzah!!

This, of course, calls for a victory celebration! Let there be pouring of ale coffee!

I HOIST MY MUG IN HONOR OF YOUR VICTORY!!! #AmWriting #coffee #NaNoWriMo #BackToWorkNow

But I can't celebrate for too long, for NaNoWriMo is not over, I'm not at 50000 words for the month, and Lighthouse Boy (not the actual title) awaits. Here we go again.

President Bartlet says, "Back to work." Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. President. #AmWriting #NaNoWriMo

Back into the rabbit hole....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Something for Thursday

Time for one of the big "warhorse" works for wind ensembles/concert bands! Here is Ralph Vaughan Williams's English Folk Song Suite. It's in three short movements, and it's one of the most purely delightful pieces of music I know. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan

Stunning photo...almost beautiful, except for the storm about to wreak so much death upon the Philippines....

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

What's a tool, gadget, or gizmo you purchased genuinely believing that it would be really useful and you'd get a lot of mileage out of it...only to have it sit on a shelf, unused, for most of its duration in your ownership?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A brief writing update

Why yes, writing is exciting! #AmWriting

I've finally reached the point in writing GhostCop (not the actual title) where the story takes over and the rest of the thing is pretty much writing itself. I love when a story gets to this point, but it's also a dangerous time, as the thought-train becomes this giant lumbering thing on a runaway course, gathering speed, and...well, you complete the metaphor. Suffice it to say that this level of focus leads to the tuning out of the entire world!

I expect to finish the draft by the end of this week, so yay, me! The next step will be to stick the manuscript in a drawer and fuhgeddaboudit until sometime in late winter or early spring, at which time the editing will begin.

And after the completion of this book? I plan to move right into my second attack on Lighthouse Boy (not the actual title), and in December, I'll lower the daily "new words" quota to accommodate the first pass-through of the Princesses II manuscript.

Someday, this is all going to pay off. Maybe not big, maybe not for a while, but I'm going somewhere with all of this. I am writer, hear me roar! Zap! Pow!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank you

It seems to me that the best thanks to all veterans would be to work as hard as we can to avoid the creation of more war veterans in the future.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome

Oddities and Awesome abound....

:: Director Steven Soderbergh on On Her Majesty's Secret Service

For me there’s no question that cinematically ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE is the best Bond film and the only one worth watching repeatedly for reasons other than pure entertainment (certainly it’s the only Bond film I look at and think: I’m stealing that shit). Shot to shot, this movie is beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are—the anamorphic compositions are relentlessly arresting—and the editing patterns of the action sequences are totally bananas; it’s like Peter Hunt (who cut the first five Bond films) took all the ideas of the French new wave and blended them with Eisenstein in a Cuisinart to create a grammar that still tops today’s how fast can you cut aesthetic, because the difference here is that each of the shots—no matter how short—are real shots, not just additional coverage from the hosing-it-down school of action, so there is a unification of the aesthetic of the first unit and the second unit that doesn’t exist in any other Bond film. And, speaking of action, there are as many big set pieces in OHMSS as any Bond film ever made, and if that weren’t enough, there’s a great score by John Barry, some really striking sound work, and what can you say about Diana Rigg that doesn’t start with the word WOW?

Of course, regular readers will know that I am absolutely unyielding in my opinion that OHMSS isn't just the best Bond movie, but a great movie in itself.

:: The Karate Kid 3 really isn't a good movie -- they really really really went to the well a few too many times with this concept -- but there's something kinda awesome about watching that movie's final fight dubbed in German.

All for this week!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Happy birthday, Dr. Sagan!

Carl Sagan was born this day, in 1934. Today we honor him, and the Cosmos from which he sprang!

And this old post of mine, in which I excerpt Dr. Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot, as he discusses the legacy of the Apollo moon missions.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Something for...sometime

Erk. Got really wrapped up in NaNo writing this week. Sorry, folks...but here's a brief thing anyway, the "Hunter's Chorus" from Carl Maria von Weber's opera Der Freischutz.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

What do you think of self-published, or "Indie", authors? Do you feel there's something "less" about a book that didn't go through the traditional route to the marketplace, or are they just books that followed another route to said marketplace?

(I'm not asking because I'm considering self-publishing in the near future, although I am considering it in the slightly-more-distant future. There is something admittedly thrilling to knowing that my work doesn't necessarily face the fate of being stuffed in a drawer and later considered "practice novels"!)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The cutest photo on the Internet that does not feature a cat

My Rules for Writing

Here are my rules for writing. Like it says in the post title.

Lunchtime work on The Backstory That Ate Tokyo. Yeesh, this is getting complex. #AmWriting

1. Write every day.

This is the most important one. I know that there are always exceptions – and I know one personally – but the "I gotta wait for The Muse to inspire me and then I write like a demon!" approach simply tends to produce nothing more than a whole lot of days during which I thought at some point, "It would be nice to write someday."

We like to think that writing is special, and it is, but it's also a job that needs doing. Which means that it's pretty much just like any other job, in that you have to actually do the work. I have a hard time even considering plotting, outlining, character sketching, and all that kind of activity real 'writing time', because in the end, what matters is the existence or non-existence of a manuscript. So yes, I insist on actual writing every single day.

Now, there ARE days when the outside world imposes restrictions that make writing impossible. But I have to be on guard against that sort of thinking, and I set the bar for acceptable reasons for not writing very high. It's just too easy for me to say things like "Meh, it's just not happening today. Get 'em again tomorrow."

2. Write a certain number of words every day.

I also strongly believe in quotas. I'm not so rigorous about meeting them, so I'm a bit more flexible about the effects the outside world has on quotas than I am about the outside world allowing me to write at all. But quotas are important, because I also believe strongly in momentum. A story is a force of nature, and the first place it musters its strength is in my brain. If I don't keep the momentum going, I lose sense of forward progress, and as the sense of forward progress diminishes, so do my senses of the story itself. I lose sight of the tale, the characters, the mood. Ironically, if I combine the First Law with too low a number in the Second, the book or story starts to feel like a lifeless lump of boring verbiage. Who wants that?

The main thing about a quota is that on the one hand, it has to be realistic to your writing abilities and opportunities; but on the other, it has to be high enough to keep the story's forward motion going. I don't like to be working on the same story for too long; eventually I start getting this weird, almost-claustrophobic sensation as I begin to despair of all the other stories that are waiting their turn because I'm taking too long with this one. I tend to think that the less time one takes to write a particular story, the better it is for that story. Thus, setting the quota at something like 100 words serves absolutely no use. At that rate, it would have taken me almost five years to write the first draft of Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title). The job's gotta get done; just doing the job is no good if it takes so long to get done.

On the other hand, I have things in life to do besides writing. I know, I know: Shocking, but true! I have family obligations and a job and other stuff. Reading, watching movies and fine teevee shows, just living life in the way that one must if one wants to have enough grist for one's creative mill. At this point, 2000 words a day is just not realistic. If I was lucky enough to be able to write full-time, sure – and that day may come! – but for now, I have to be honest and admit that I just can't work eight hours, write eight hours, sleep eight hours. I also have to fit in stuff like being with The Wife and The Daughter, and since I actually want to do those things, it doesn't feel like a giant trade-off of any sort.

So, right now I'm trying a quota of 1500 words a day. I haven't made it in a while, but that's where I currently stand. And that quota is itself changeable: the only reason it's that high, right now, is that I'm well into the third act of Princesses II, and I've got a really solid idea now of where things are going and how it's shaping up. When I finish this one and move onto the next one, I'll probably drop the quota back down to 1000 words a day as I start the new project.

Ultimately, when it comes to the actual work of writing, I'm very unromantic and very Captain Malcolm Reynolds-like in my focus on doing the job.

3. Trust the Muse.

Now, I've written before about how my Muse operates. And the thing is...I'm fine with that. He drops by often enough, and I've learned that he drops by more often the more work I'm doing. But there's no predictability to what he's going to toss out his window at me as he drives by; while working on the current book I've had a number of ideas pop at me about the next two (neither of which are in this series), and then he's thrown ideas at me regarding this book. And he has yet to give me a single solitary hint about what's going to happen in Princesses III. I couldn't begin to tell you what happens in that book.

But I trust that the Muse will tell me when I get there. That'll be a while, anyway – likely at least a year. So why worry about it? I didn't have any idea what was going to happen in Princesses II until I was going through the manuscript of Princesses I for the third time. Now I'm very close to a complete first draft.

I had a very real object lesson in trusting the Muse as I got to this book's climax, because I found myself in a very serious problem. I knew what needed to happen, but the why was giving me fits. It was quite serious, actually, because unless I figured out a logical why, I'd be staring a "Hey, dummy!" situation in the face. That's when the characters are doing their thing, and struggling to accomplish the task set for them, when it suddenly becomes insanely obvious to everyone watching this story what's going on, so you start wishing for someone to grab the main character by the lapel and scream "Hey, dummy!" in his face until he listens. My output slowed to nothing while I mulled this whole problem over.

But, inevitably, the Muse arrived and showed me the way through, for which I am eternally grateful.

4. Brutal editing feels good.

The oft-cited phrase is, "Kill your darlings". But when I shift into editor mode, I tend to have very little mercy on my work. It has to be this way. If it's not, if I fall in love with the sound of my own voice, then...well, that way, madness lies.

There are times when a piece of writing simply does not work. Either it's because it clashes with the tone, or because it brings the pace to a crashing halt, or it seriously goes against a particular character's nature, or...whatever. Usually these kinds of passages are easy to see, but sometimes, for whatever reason, they have set up camp in the writer's heart, and it's damned hard to cut something out when it's growing out of your own heart. So, we makes excuses. We bargain with ourselves: "It's not that bad! It doesn't harm the pacing that much, it's just a couple of pages!" And so on.

It's generally my experience that if I have to supply myself with more than one reason a particular bit should not be cut, then it should be cut.

In truth, I haven't yet run into this too much. For me, the hesitation to pull the trigger comes when I'm in the course of writing a first draft, as opposed to editing. That's when, in an example I've used a lot, I suddenly realized while writing chapter 13 or 14 of Princesses I that I'd made a serious misstep in chapter 10. Ouch. That was quite a chunk of material that got cut, but it had to go. My excuse there? "But I've done all this work!"

My ultimate reply? "So what? It sucks."

Cut cut cut.

5. Outlining is for knaves, half-wits, and people of low character. (Exceptions to this are many.)

I don't outline. I hate outlines, they bug me, I hate writing them, and I always always always find that I end up diverging wildly from the outline, anyway. So no outlining for me. I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, always have been, likely always will be.

Except for when I need to do a little outlining, in which case...I outline.

I know, I know...but as in all things, I am large. I contain multitudes.

In the case of my upcoming NaNoWriMo project – the second attempt on/attack of Lighthouse Boy – I found that what tripped me up the last time was that the backstory became much more complicated than I could manage in my head, so I had to stop while I let the whole thing gestate a bit. Princesses In SPACE!!! worked differently – the backstory reveals itself much more slowly in that book, being as it is intended as a kick-off to a long series, and I generally believe that backstory should be revealed in tiny increments, as needed. But Lighthouse Boy is meant as a one-shot novel, so the backstory's got to be there and functional right from the get-go. So I've done a lot of work on that backstory, figuring things out and coming up with a brief outline of the book's first few chapters.

What I never do is outline an entire story or book. I've done this in the past, and every single time, something cooler has happened along the way, so now I figure, why not just skip that step? I will do a bit of outlining if I find that I'm stuck in a spot or if I'm entering a fairly complex bit of the story and I'm not entirely sure how the moving parts all fit together. In that case, I'll do a brief outline of the next chapter or two, but that's it.

I had a vicious slump on GhostCop a month or so ago, but I eventually plowed my way through it by just plowing my way through it. As always, the characters took on their lives and showed me the way to the end. What's really cool is that there are things happening in that book that are really surprising to me, things I never thought about when the original idea popped into my head. I love when that happens.

6. Associate with other writers.

Seriously, this is why the Internet is the Official Best Thing Ever. Few things make me feel better than discussing the shared headaches and trials and tribulations and little victories and major victories with other people who have been there, or who are there, or who hope to be there soon. The World of Writing is a big one indeed, and it's nice to find fellow travelers.


Self-explanatory, I think, and it's a rule that isn't just good for writers. Read a lot. Read from a wide variety of things. Read novels, short stories, poetry. Read good nonfiction. Read good long-form journalism. Read good blogs, and read good comics.


8. Do other stuff.

Watch movies and good teevee shows. Go for walks. Cook. Go for short drives. Take pictures. Talk about sports and other stuff with your friends. Live.

As Lester Bangs wrote:

In a way, Jim Morrison's life and death could be written off as simply one of the more pathetic episodes in the history of the star system, or that offensive myth we all persist in believing which holds that artists are somehow a race apart and thus entitled to piss on my wife, throw you out the window, smash up the joint, and generally do whatever they want. I've seen a lot of this over the years, and what's most ironic is that it always goes under the assumption that to deny them these outbursts would somehow be curbing their creativity, when the reality, as far as I can see, is that it's exactly such insane tolerance of another insanity that also contributes to them drying up as artists. Because how can you finally create anything real or beautiful when you have absolutely zero input from the real world, because everyone around you is catering to and sheltering you? You can't, and this system is I'd submit why we've seen almost all our rock 'n' roll heroes who, unlike Morrison, did manage to survive the Sixties, end up having nothing to say.

And as Stephen King wrote:

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.

9. Find your own rules.

Of course, none of the above may work for you; if not, you may need to find your own way through the wilderness....

Monday, November 04, 2013

Caillou In Inappropriate Places II

Yes, I suppose this will become a semi-regular feature (here's the first time), because, well, making fun of Caillou is an awful lot of fun! So join me as we follow Caillou into more inappropriate places!

Caillou reacts to Pepper Spray Cop!

Caillou hangs out with the boys in the trenches of World War I!

Caillou tries to help out during the Dust Bowl!

Caillou joins the cast of Showgirls!

Stay tuned for more whacky and inappropriate misadventures of everybody's least-favorite follicly-challenged four-year-old!

Sentential Links


:: So I ask again, who won World War II? Was it the Allies? The Americans? The Soviet Union?

I believe that the real victory of World War II came from the emaciated symphony of Leningrad. In a deeper sense, the real victories in life belong to those who never give up.
(I followed a few links from Facebook and ended up here, a blog I'd never seen before.)

:: I read an article this weekend about this movie and how Bollywood has no history of Superheroes in their film industry or even in Indian culture. They had to build a mythology from scratch in order to sell their target audience on the idea of a hero with superpowers. (A Bollywood superhero movie? This, I gotta see.)

:: The key is that what I do is find topics to write on, and throw random thoughts in an electronic folder until the ideas start writing themselves. You ever read about a writer on a TV show or a novelist talk about dictating itself to them, rather than the other way around? It’s sort of like that. (Blogging used to be that way for me, but as I've made the decision that my fiction writing must be the focus, blogging has to be dug at and pried a bit. Strange.)

:: As you know by now, I have no use for books that are written according to a marketable formula, and containing no heart. Somewhere, sometime, a writer has to leave drops of blood on his or her pages.

:: A much shorter version of all the above is that I can put on $120 worth of clothes and shoes and be taken seriously almost anywhere I might want to go. So that’s what I do. Not everyone gets to do it. These facts are worth thinking about.

:: Goddman, I love comic books.

:: I am not one of those people who harp continually about how the series needs to be cancelled because it’s not as good as when it was one of the best series of all time, but how do you go forward without Edna Krabappel? (That's the whole post, but I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the laughs over four decades, Marcia Wallace!)

More next week!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome!

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: I think that you can not name a single human pursuit that does not have, somewhere on this planet, a museum devoted to it. Case in point: A museum to French fries.

:: A bit of set-up here: The Wife's car has satellite radio, which is pretty cool. We like the stations devoted to specific decades in popular music. Usually we stick the 70s and 80s, with occasional dips into the 60s. One night, I took her car to pick up some pizza, and I decided, on a lark, to listen to the 40s channel, whereupon I heard this song. I admit that my first impulse, based on my living in a more cynical time, was to laugh, but as it played and as I later listened to it at home, I had to admit a certain admiration for the music of a period when the default position in art was not "jaded irony". There's something to be said for such open honesty in art. Anyway, here's a song called "The Old Master Painter".

I'm not sure this is the version I heard that night, but it's pretty representative. There are a bunch of them on YouTube.

More next week!

Friday, November 01, 2013

All good things must end...even local breakfast joints

Terrific article about the closing of a beloved local restaurant in Indiana:

On the last morning, before the waffle irons went cold and the pictures came down, before the lock refused to lock, before the claw crashed through the roof, the old man paced.

Tap, tap, tap. Bud Powell’s aluminum cane led the way as he circled the floor of Bloomington’s Waffle House. His Waffle House.

That Wednesday in September, the owner didn’t know what to do with himself. The smell of frying oil, the same greasy perfume that had greeted customers for 46 years, wafted into his nose as he wandered past the vinyl booths. He sat down, then stood
up again.

Bud — everyone called him Bud — checked on the dwindling supply of breakfast sausage, peered into the nearly empty freezers, tried to explain to his regulars why it had to be this way.

“It’s time,” he said over and over.

Do read the whole thing. It's a very good piece of writing. It seems to me that there needs to be a name for this mini-genre of writing, in which writers make you miss places you've never been.