In Which the Prof Meets the Demon Dog

I was able to catch a ride on Mr. Block’s coattails last night, as along with Lynne Block and my chair David Rachels, I accompanied LB to a reception on the far side of Real City. The reception was held at the home of Richard Layman, expert on all things Dashiell Hammett and the ultimate term in Bruccoli Clark Layman, producers of (among other things) the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

The intimate get-together (x<20 people) was held because of another well known crime writer’s visit to the area. James Ellroy, self-described “demon dog of American literature,” had been in town for a couple of days, giving a talk at Flagship U (the library of which is the repository of his papers, totaling somewhere around a million pages… so far), and promoting his latest novel.

Ellroy hadn’t yet arrived when we did — in fact, our carload from Mondoville was first on the scene. This gave us the advantage of first looks at the Laymans’ gorgeous home, and first crack at the impressive catered spread, provided by a local Italian restaurant. I grazed a bit, drank some water, and settled into eavesdropping mode.

I have to admit I was a little nervous. Mr. Ellroy has gained a certain notoriety for his combination of exuberance and willingness to push people’s buttons (not that those buttons are hard to push in these hypersensitive days, but he’s done it for quite some time.) His persona (like that of Harlan Ellison) is that of the in-your-face provocateur, and there was a part of me that wondered if I was going to see some contemporary version of Appointment in Samarra.

I needn’t have worried. Mr. Ellroy arrived, in his customary Hawaiian shirt. As he worked the room, I was struck by his height — maybe half an inch or so less than mine, though his posture is better (not hard to do; I slouch through life with the posture of cooked shrimp). We shook hands, and after a bit, he fell into a conversation with Mr. Block while I continued to lurk in a corner. The two of them hadn’t run into each other in years, but they seemed to be enjoying catching up.

After a bit, I got up to get some more water, and asked jokingly if LB was telling Mr. Ellroy to try for a Mondoville gig. We laughed, and Ellroy said that his sole criteria for judging colleges were mascot, colors, cheerleaders, and sweaters (presumably on said cheerleaders, but that was my inference, rather than a direct statement.) So I said, “Wolves, Scarlet and Gray, not shabby at all, and the sweaters are nice enough.” He laughed and said that sounded pretty good. They talked a bit about someone I’ve met before, and after a bit, I got my refill and fell back again.

Another of the guests happened to be a fellow with whom I occasionally play trivia, and so he, David, and I chatted about things in general, mostly of a literary nature, and after a while, LB took a seat near us and joined in. The time passed quickly, and after a while, we were ready to take our leave.

Before we headed out, I thanked the Laymans for their hospitality (“For putting up with us,” I believe I actually said) and went back to Mr. Ellroy.

“I’m glad to have met you, Mr. Ellroy. Enjoy the rest of your visit. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”

“God bless you,” he said.

“And you as well,” I said, and we made our way out the door, and back to Mondoville.

Posted in Culture, Education, Literature | 1 Comment

Cats, Pugilists, and Noir at the Bar

So we did a thing last night, and it was nearer than we anticipated, but we got a happy ending, and what’s wrong with that?

I got to Bar Figaro at 6:30 last night, the first of the Noir at the Bar group to make it. I went into the event room to check the PA setup, only to discover that there wasn’t one to check. Apparently I had misunderstood things when I had made the arrangements.

Oops.

So I started placing phone calls — specifically to Marshall Maddy from the college’s Marketing Deparatment, and when I didn’t raise him, I tried my department chair (and fellow reader) David Rachels. His youngest son is a musician, and I checked with David about the possibility of making an impromptu PA system from spare gear. No dice, and I was starting to envision myself as The Guy Who Ruined the Night when Marshall showed up. Fortunately the venue is only about half a mile from the college, so Marshall saved the day, getting everything set up while I greeted arriving writers, friends, and other visitors.

Marshall moved to his video gear while campus photographer Larry Cameron got ready to shoot stills. The crowd was solid — it wasn’t standing room, but there weren’t many empty seats either. Since we were competing with a soccer game, a concert, and a departmental festivity on campus, we really did pretty well. Those of us with books to raffle or sell set them on a table near the stage. I then moved toward the back of the room, sitting with S.A. Cosby and Eryk Pruitt as the house stereo was turned down and it was showtime.

Newberry underclassman Caleb Lawrimore acted as MC for the evening, introducing readers and drawing tickets for the book raffle. In fact, it was a very Newberry affair, as our first reader was freshly minted grad (and my former student) Karina Tarbell. Karina’s story (set in Newberry) was a nice opener to the night, dealing with a writer’s innovative — and violent — attempt to get past a case of writer’s block. She was followed by David Rachels, who shared a couple of flash pieces. The first, “A Serial Killer Buys a Watermelon,” is a cross between a shaggy-dog story and an Andy Kaufman anti-comedy bit, with some comment on true crime media as well. I didn’t catch the title of the second piece, but it was a dryly funny piece about a boxer’s desperate efforts to throw a fight, which proves more difficult than one might expect.

Next up was one of our out-of-town guests, Jill D. Block, who shared a section from her story “Tess and Julie, Julie and Tess,” which will appear in LB’s forthcoming anthology of stories set in academia, The Darkling Halls of Ivy. Like the recent At Home in the Darkthis antho will come out in a hardbound collector’s edition from Subterranean in May 2020, with a softcover version following in short order. (Also like At Home in the DarkIvy will include a new story by Your Genial Host, but more on that in the weeks ahead. Get ready, is all I’m saying.) As has been the case with JDB’s other stories and her novel The Truth About Parallel Lines, she finds a character with a strong voice and draws us into that character’s life and world. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story when the book comes out.

Shawn Cosby closed the first set with a reading of his Anthony-nominated story, “The Grass Beneath My Feet.”

Not a painting -- the real Cosby. (Photo: Eryk Pruitt)

The story (which originally ran in upstart crimezine Tough) is a remarkable thing, a hard-boiled tearjerker, and well deserving of its accolades. Indeed, he should be getting used to accolades at this point, with his debut novel My Darkest Prayer receiving a great deal of positive attention as well. The story was greeted with a storm of applause, which seemed as good a time as any for an intermission.

The second set began with another former student of mine, Kasey Schroer. Her husband has shown up in this blog on occasion as keyboardist for the Berries, but both halves of the couple have considerable and varied talents, and Kasey (a truly gifted singer) demonstrated that she is a notable writer of dark fiction, sharing a story of a vile individual who learns the error of his ways in no uncertain terms. The story was squirmworthy throughout, and was nastily effective.

Eryk Pruitt lightened the mood considerably with “Knacker,” a tall tale of a big Texan in a bareknuckles fight in Ireland, who meets an unlikely and dangerous opponent. Pruitt, a Texan himself, does a fine job with the first-person narrator, who shares his adjustment to a new culture and an unexpected challenge. Fans of the humor in Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard novels will like this one, which can be found in his short story collection Townies.

I was up next, and read “Bowery Station, 3:15 A.M.,” from Dark City Lights.

Me at N@tB 10 Oct 19

“I got one short story and a microphone.” (Photo: Raegan Teller)

I hadn’t read it in about three years, but it worked just fine, and it’s quite short, which is a good thing, as (with the possible exception of Mrs. M), no one was there to see me, and the headliner was up next.

That, of course, is the indefatigable Mr. Block, who took the stage with an advance copy of The Burglar in Short Order, a collection of tales and excerpts featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr, Block’s beloved gentleman burglar. The story he shared was a conversation between Bernie and Carolyn Kaiser, in which Carolyn introduces Bernie to a potential employee — a cat named (remarkably enough) Raffles. The piece is a fine example of LB’s ability to tell a story with wit and grace, almost entirely through dialogue.

Larry N@tB 10 Oct 19

Lawrence Block — as good as good gets. (Photo: Raegan Teller.)

Before he began reading, he mentioned that since he was the evening’s final reader, the audience should feel free to walk out any time they got bored. Unsurprisingly, the advice was unnecessary. The crowd was thoroughly satisfied with the chance to hear the Grand Master do what he does so well — charm an audience and leave them wanting more.

Afterward, we all shared congratulations and good vibes, interspersed with moments to sign copies of the promotional flyer for the event and to sell a few books. A lot of folks congratulated me for putting this together, little knowing how close I had brought us to a fiasco. But who can resist a happy ending?

And the story continued this morning, as a number of friends told us what a good time they had, and this afternoon, as the folks at Bar Figaro told us they’d be happy to host these events on something of a regular basis in the future.

That’s the mystery genre for you — who can resist a good series?

Posted in Culture, Education, Literature | Leave a comment

Meanwhile, in Terpville (and Tonight in Mondoville)…

I’m pleased to announce that the taxpayers of Maryland are allowing the Spawn to earn a living, as she is now the U of MD’s newest graduate assistant. She’ll be helping out at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, at a satellite facility outside the main campus. In exchange, she’ll be getting her tuition comped, plus enough (we hope) to keep body and soul apart. We actually got the news last weekend, but the Spawn asked me to embargo it until the ink was dry and she was In The System. And now she is (and she starts on Monday), and she told me to “feel free to shout it from the rooftops.” Of course, I’m afraid of heights, so I think I’ll just blog instead.

Smith_School_Logo

Meanwhile, tonight is also a big night in Mondoville, as Bar Figaro hosts our little town’s inaugural Noir at the Bar, headlined by Lawrence Block, with a whole bunch of us serving as opening acts. The fun starts at 8, and should go until at least 10, so I hope to see you all there!

Noirbar19

If you can’t make it, I’ll offer a full report in the next day or two. Meanwhile, here’s some music in honor of the Spawn’s new job site.

See you soon!

Posted in Education, Family, Literature, Music, Pixel-stained Wretchery | Leave a comment

Well, It’s International Lesbian Day…

… and since she’s been to the US, Canada, and the Bahamas, I guess she counts.

So, a couple of years ago, the Spawn came down to the den, where I was reading or noodling around online. “Dad?” she said.

“So I’m told.”

“What would you think if I told you I wanted to date a girl?”

“Well, if you like her, and if she’s a nice person who treats you well, and if you’re both interested, that seems like something I’d be okay with.”

“But you wouldn’t be mad at me?”

“Why? You’re my daughter, and I love you. It’s not like you’d be harming someone.”

And as we talked, it occurred to me that I wasn’t particularly surprised. She had a boyfriend for a while in high school, but never seemed to go through the whole gooey, in-L-U-V-luv thing, and actually seemed pretty relieved when they split up. Beyond that, she never really had much to say about boys, dating, or any of that. So I may have wondered for some time, somewhere below the radar, or maybe just barely on the screen, but I figured that if she wanted to talk about her love life at some point, she likely would. And now she had.

“Is there someone you have in mind?” I asked.

“Um, you know the group of friends that I talk with online all the time?”

“Yeah.”

“One of them — Dani — and I — well, we like each other. A lot.”

“Okay. Where does she live?”

“Maryland.”

“Isn’t that going to make dating a bit of a challenge?”

“Yes and no. We watch movies online together, and we chat and talk constantly, and we’re talking about meeting face to face, and we were wondering what you’d think about it.”

“Honestly, I’m a little concerned, but more about the fact that all your contact has been online. Which,” I added, “would bug me if it were a guy, too. I don’t think it would be a great idea for you just to take off to Maryland to meet this girl, but maybe we can figure something out.”

And as it happened, and after more months of nightly phone calls, we found out that the U of Maryland has a very strong grad program in library science, so we decided to take a campus visit and incorporate some time for the two of them to get together. And they did, and one thing has led to another, and Dani became the Spawn’s Main (and honestly, only) Squeeze. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting her here last Christmas and for the Spawn’s graduation from Mondoville. She seems to be a really good kid, and it’s evident that she and the Spawn click when they’re together, whether geographically or virtually. Really, the Spawn has been happier than I can remember her being in many years, and it makes sense. She loves someone who loves her back. And that’s what I’ve wanted for her all along.

They spend their weekends together now — where she has been welcomed by her girlfriend’s family, and the Main Squeeze will be moving into the Spawn’s place in January, as she’ll be finishing her degree. After they graduate, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them get engaged; they certainly talk about it enough.

And while this has gone on for a while, I’ve kept most of it off the blog for the same reason I’ve generally used semi-anonymous handles for most of the people who show up around here — it’s my blog, and I write about my life, but I try to give the personal stuff at least a very thin veneer of privacy. Most of my surviving family knows, as do some of our friends (and pretty much all of hers), but I didn’t see a way to talk about it here that didn’t feel like it was out of the blue. But in fact, the Spawn has wondered for a while if I was ever going to let the penny drop. I told her that I wanted to find a way to talk about it that didn’t feel gratuitous to me. And then today I found out it was International Lesbian Day (which, for all I know, was invented by the employees of Hallmark), so I asked if she thought today was a good day to write about it.

“Heck, yeah,” she said, and sent me a picture from last weekend, when they went to a local orchard for cider and apple-picking.

EM and Dani Apple picking 1

The Spawn (L.) and Main Squeeze, last Saturday afternoon.

So here we are. Love you, kid. We’ll talk tonight.

Posted in Education, Family, Pixel-stained Wretchery, Why I Do What I Do | 4 Comments

Sunday Potpourri: Farewell to a Monster Edition

I have a slew of things to grade, but the monkey must be fed.

***

Perhaps it’s because of my timeline being filled with musicians and music lovers, but ever since I got up today, said timeline has blown up with comments on the death of legendary drummer Ginger Baker, who left us this morning at the age of 80. We’ve seen it coming for a while, but still, it feels like a milestone.

My friend over at Shabby Road offers an overview of Ginger’s career and life that is both acerbic and accurate. By all accounts, Mr. Baker was a horrendous human being, leaving a trail of pain and misery wherever he went. He was as venomous as Buddy Rich (one of the few players out of Ginger’s league) sometimes was, but unlike Rich, who had genuine friends, Baker was apparently that hostile all the time. To borrow Gore Vidal’s line about Norman Mailer, Baker behaved as though he had no talent.

But of course, Baker did have talent — enormous talent. Along with Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell — neither of whom he respected — Baker was one of the drummers who reinvented the role of the instrument in the 1960s. His jazz-and-African-influenced work brought an intense melodicism along with his rock-solid time; Baker was one of the few drummers whose parts you could sing. It’s worth noting that even when other musicians (e.g., Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton in Blind Faith) were terrified of him (with reason; his brutal beatdowns of Cream bassist Jack Bruce probably warranted jail time), they knew he was as good a musician as they could hope to get. While Robert Johnson legendarily sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his ability, Ginger Baker played and lived as though he too was eternally damned — and knew it before he ever picked up a pair of sticks.

I was lucky enough to see Ginger in Cincinnati in 1990, playing a medium-sized/large-club show with stoner rock pioneers Masters of Reality. I’ve said before that although (and perhaps because) I’m a drummer, I dislike drum solos. Too often they are about drumming-as-athletic-event, rather than drumming as music. However, in a relatively brief (for Baker) six- or seven-minute solo, he demonstrated phenomenal command of the instrument, with power, technical skill, and even some showmanship, removing a cymbal from a stand and replacing it with another, all without missing a beat. The people in the audience realized they had seen something nearly supernatural.

The other thing that struck me was that Ginger looked like a mad wizard from a fantasy novel, impossibly aged, but terrifyingly powerful. He was three years younger than I am now. I think both his mistakes as a human being and his phenomenal talent aged him in dog years.

As a drummer, I recognize Ginger’s influence on my own playing, of course. One of my high school bands covered “Tales of Brave Ulysses”, and I’ve always tried to play with the sensitivity to the song that I’ve heard in drummers like Ginger, Translator’s Dave Scheff… and Ringo. Doubtless being mentioned along with Ringo would have infuriated Baker, but so did everything else. I stand by my comparison.

I hope he finds the peace that eluded him — and anyone who had to be near him. Goodbye, Mr. Baker. You were a monster, and a monster drummer. Thanks for the music.

***

In other news, we’re gearing up for Thursday’s Noir at the Bar here in downtown Mondoville. It’s going to be a great time, and I have to admit it’s a huge kick for me to be reading alongside LB. As I’ve noted in the past, having been able to appear in Mr. Block’s anthologies is like having Wilt Chamberlain pick you for his playground basketball team. And the fact that it’s happened half a dozen times (counting the two in progress) is enough to make me think that maybe I belong on the playground after all.

Noirbar19

See you there!

***

In other other news, Kevin D. Williamson hits one out of the park today at NRO. 

The moralistic busybodies were wrong in the Eighties. They’re wrong today. They deserved the contempt they received then. They deserve it now. The difference is that free speech and heterodoxy used to have allies in such venues as The New Yorker and the New York Times, where both political and artistic freedom now have so many enemies. But I understand that retro-Eighties nostalgia is hot right now. If we’re going to bring back big hair and shoulder pads, we may as well resuscitate the public career of Tipper Gore, last seen skulking around Democratic fundraising circles at the junior-varsity level. Perhaps we could bring back Johnny Carson and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation while we’re at it.

And maybe we can find someone to speak for the cause of art that declines to be subordinated to anybody’s political agenda, current social-improvement projects, the tender sensibilities of critics at the New York Times, or the increasingly baroque rules of etiquette that organizes the lives of New Yorker readers as they sway in the wind like a field of ripe corn.

Nuclear annihilation remains the safer bet, but one may still dream.

Read the whole thing.

***

Well, I had hopes, but those papers have not in fact graded themselves, so I’ll close. And today’s musical choices are obvious.

See you soon!

Posted in Literature, Music, Pixel-stained Wretchery | 1 Comment

Sunday Afternoon Potpourri: Aging and Sneezing Edition

I’m in my office, and just finished moving a bunch of CDs to an empty shelf. Well, not quite empty — turns out there was a fair amount of dust there, which accounts for the sneezing fit I had a few minutes back. Fortunately, I had some tissues handy. As for the rest…

***

Friday marked my 54th birthday. I brought some Krispy Kremes to my 8:00 History of the Language class, taught my Froshcomp sections, and headed home that afternoon to wait for Mrs. M’s arrival from work. We drove up to Clinton for dinner at the Blue Ocean seafood restaurant, which seems to have become our go-to special occasion option. Mrs. M likes the grilled salmon, and I went for a large serving of fish and chips, followed by a hefty slice of cheesecake.

Then it was home, for those gifts that weren’t delayed in delivery. Specifically, I received DVDs of one of my favorite noirs and a Devo concert video to replace one I unwisely loaned out. (Still to arrive are DVDs of Frank Zappa and the wonderfully creepy Hangover Square, along with the latest album from LA-via-Detroit garage-popsters the Singles, a replacement copy of William Goldman’s first novel,  and the collected stories of Ambrose Bierce, compared to whom I am a Pollyanna.) I also received a copy of Give Us Barabbas, from the Masters of Reality, and my evening’s reading, Joe R. Lansdale’s The Elephant of Surprise.

Elephant is the latest in Mr. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series of Texas-sized action/mystery/adventures. In this one, our heroes more-or-less inadvertently rescue a seriously injured young woman. It turns out that said young woman knows some things that a local crime lord would prefer to have forgotten, and keeping her alive will require, um, significant effort.

The book is very long on action, and this is one of Lansdale’s strengths as a writer. He handles action scenes better than nearly anyone in the business, and he handles them relentlessly in this one. In the absence of a shot of adrenaline, sections of this book would make a fine substitute eye-opener. The bad guys are more than sufficiently threatening — not in the freak show way we occasionally find in these novels, but in the presentation of  antagonists who are both evil and nearly hypercompetent. In particular, there’s a martial artist that I wouldn’t be surprised to encounter in a later novel — God knows I wouldn’t want to in real life. And as usual, Hap Collins’s voice remains resolutely fresh and resolutely Texan (though as I’ve mentioned before, I can also hear echoes of my working-class Tennessee background.) It’s a fun read, and a quick one; it took me about an hour.

If there is a shortcoming, it’s that sometimes the action seemed to come at the expense of the interplay between characters that makes the series endearing for me. I really enjoy our heroes’ interaction with the other people in their lives — it’s one of the things that keeps the series from becoming cartoonish — and I didn’t find enough of it in this one. Still, it was a fine Friday night thrill ride, and a worthy addition to the series.

***

After finishing Elephant, I did something I don’t usually do and watched a network TV show. I’m not one of those “Oh, television” types — I’m just generally reading something or listening to music or playing online or some such in the evening, and consequently, don’t watch much non-sports TV these days.

But the daughter of a friend of mine was making her network debut, and how could I pass that up? And she did a terrific job, one that we can hope will lead to more work. Acting’s a rough, demanding business, as is music, and I have considerable respect for anyone who can reach the level that Ms. Bond has, especially at her tender age. Brava, kid. Hope to see you again before too long.

***

Yesterday was a day for sports, as the Mondoville footballers opened a three-game home stand, taking on conference foes Tusculum U from the other side of the Appalachians. It was another hot day, with a high in the 90s, but I didn’t get as burned this time as I was at the home opener.

I picked up lunch at the concession stand, made my way to my seat, opened my drink — and got sprayed, as apparently I had jostled it a bit in the process of getting situated. In particular, my right leg and corresponding part of my shorts got a substantial blast of cola. I blotted up what I could, resigned myself to a bit of residual stickiness, and hoped it wasn’t an omen — at 0-3, we didn’t need any further harbingers of doom.

But as it turned out, after three hours of aggressive and opportunistic defensive play (including five forced turnovers, a scoop-and-score, and a safety), the might of Mondoville carried the day, 30-20. Next week’s challengers come from Mars Hill U, and the forecast looks to be 10-15 degrees cooler, which is a good thing indeed. By the time I walked home, I was a bit overheated and had to rinse off in the shower before stretching out under a fan.

Then it was time to see if my beloved Kentucky Wildcats could extend their five-year winning streak against Flagship U from Real City. Afraid not; the locals thumped the visitors from my old alma mater soundly enough for me to find something else to do by the fourth quarter, and it looks like it could be a long season. Of course, being a UK fan means that the solace of basketball season isn’t too far away, so the pain will pass soon enough.

***

And speaking of pain, I hope you’ll recall that a passel of terrific writers will be bringing the literary pain on 10 October, as Noir at the Bar makes its Mondoville debut.

Noirbar19

Alas, this is slightly dated, as John Carenen has had to withdraw from the night’s readers, but that just leaves the rest of us with a little more room to offer thrills and chills, and maybe even a chuckle or two. We hope to see you there!

And nine days after that, I’ll be at Grecian Gardens restaurant in Real City, talking to a lunch meeting of the Palmetto chapter of Sisters of Crime. In both cases, I’ll have some copies of BGW available for purchase, and I’ll even sign it if you don’t think it’ll lower the value too much.

Meanwhile, we got some good news, learning that Mr. Block’s latest “art-thology”, From Sea to Stormy Sea got moved up on the printing schedule, and will be — well, I’ll let him tell you:

From Sea to Stormy Sea: 17 Stories Inspired by Great American Paintings, coming in two months from Pegasus. This was originally set for September release, then pushed back clear to February for lack of available FSTSS coverpress time. And then a printer found room in his schedule, and November 19 is the release date.

I assume this is in the tradition of In Sunlight or in Shadow and Alive in Shape and Color. Are the paintings as beautiful this time? And are the stories as good?

Yes and yes. The painters include Harvey Dunn, Reginald Marsh, Thomas Hart Benton, Helen Frankenthaler, Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent, Grant Wood, and Andy Warhol, with stories by Sara ParetskyJan BurkeWarren MoorePatricia AbbottChrista FaustJerome CharynBarry MalzbergScott FrankBrendan DuBoisTom FranklinGary PhillipsCharles ArdaiMicah NathanJanice EidusJohn SandfordandJane Hamilton.

That’s only sixteen stories. You said seventeen.

Oh, right. I forgot to mention myself. I wrote a new story for the book, to go with a painting by Raphael Soyer. And, of course, I supplied the usual self-serving introduction.

I’m really proud of this anthology, and am very happy the pub date has been moved up in time for Christmas, as I’d be hard put to come up with a better book for the Holiday season. Pre-ordering will guarantee you have books in hand in timely fashion.

Oh, and here’s a little something to pique your interest. One of the paintings is by the father of one of the writers. Yes, really.

Practically sells itself, doesn’t it? Well, it does if you buy it, so there!

***

All right; even birthday weekends must draw to a close, and there are lessons in need of planning, so I’d best close this post. I discovered Johnathan Pushkar last night. Based in Nashville, he has a Rickenbacker 12-string and a serious British Invasion fixation. (“SOLD!”, the Prof cried.) Plaintive, jangly songs about girls — what else do you need? Here’s his new single, and even if you’re so cold you don’t love it, it’s only two minutes long, so what’s there to lose?

See you soon!

Posted in Broken Glass Waltzes, Culture, Education, Family, Literature, Music, Why I Do What I Do | 1 Comment

And This One Belongs to…

Marty Brennaman. The Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame radio announcer called his last Reds game today; he’s retiring after 46 seasons behind the microphone. Unfortunately, the Reds couldn’t send him off with a win (and the opportunity to deploy his catchphrase “And this one belongs to the Reds!”, but that’s not all that unusual, I guess — over that 46-year span, he got to welcome three World Series championships, none of which came in the last 29 seasons.

I moved to the Cincinnati area when I was not quite 13, in the summer of 1978, just after the Reds’ golden era. I became a fan when we got there — I had never been in a major league market before, and had previously pulled for the Cardinals, as I had cousins living in Kirkwood, MO. Brennaman had joined the broadcast team in 1974, and so he has been the team’s voice for the entire time that I’ve followed the team, paired with the late Joe Nuxhall for decades, and Jeff Brantley in more recent years.

When we first moved to the area, my folks took my brother and me to the Florence Mall, where I would later get my first real job. They were buying school clothes, but the only thing I can remember them buying was a T-shirt for my brother, with the team’s Wishbone C, an image of mascot Mr. Red. . . and Brennaman’s signature phrase.

I live in Braves country now, I guess, but I don’t follow baseball as closely as I once did. Still, in the part of me that will always be from the Cincinnati area, the part that has found its way into my memory and my fiction, I pull for the Reds, and the voice on the soundtrack is that of Marty Brennaman.

May his retirement be long and happy. So long, Marty — thanks for the games.

Posted in Broken Glass Waltzes, Culture, Family, Why I Do What I Do | Leave a comment