I’ve made it through a wave of Gradeapalooza this weekend, with a couple more to go in the next week-and-a-half. But at this moment, I’m in the trough between waves, so here we go…
Thanksgiving Day was quiet — perhaps quieter than I might have hoped. With the Spawn staying in Terpville with the Main Squeeze this weekend (we get her back at Christmas), Mrs. M, Ell Bee, and I opted to do the turkey consumption thing at a local buffet. I called that morning, and asked what their hours would be. “We start at 11, and we close at 3, or whenever we run out.”
So we decided to show up around 1, midway through the window. Not our best decision, as things were already pretty thoroughly cleared out. What was there wasn’t bad, but things weren’t conducive to gluttony. I guess that’s not a bad thing either, but I would have preferred it to be my decision. On the upside, we had no dishes to wash. As there was no need for a food coma, I wound up grading papers into the evening.
Still, of course, we have our reasons to be thankful, and I am — for friends and loved ones, for the physical comfort of my life, for work that offers me satisfaction. And of course, I’m also thankful for you, the folks who check in to see what’s up in this particular round world’s imagined corner. I’m glad we’re all here.
On Friday, I headed down to Real City for a visit to my inexpensive Chinese restaurant of choice, followed by a haircut and a swing by the used media emporium. As a bonus, I was pleased to learn that my doctoral institution closed the football season with a smackdown of the would-be yuppies of Miami (Ohio) U. in what has become designated as the “Red Bird Rivalry.” I snagged a Nameless Detective novel that I haven’t read before, so I have that to look forward to when Gradeapalooza is done.
Another nice thing about my trips to Real City is that there’s a Kroger more or less along my route, which means that should the spirit move me (and it often does), I can grap a pint of one of my favorite ice creams, Graeter’s Mocha Chocolate Chip. Because I’m a sport and because it’s the holidays, I even picked up a pint of Black Raspberry Chip for Mrs. M. So OK… maybe there was some gluttony on my part this weekend.
By the way, although I spent the afternoon in one of Real City’s major shopping districts, traffic really wasn’t that bad, nor was the used media emporium overrun in an orgy of consumerism. I guess the crazy stuff happened earlier in the day.
Upon my return home, I relaxed a bit and watched my beloved Kentucky Wildcats vanquish the visiting hoopsters from the U of Alabama at Birmingham before I snarfed up the ice cream. So it was a good day, I think.
Yesterday was an important day for Kentucky sports fans (including those of us now outside the precincts of the Commonwealth), as it was the annual confrontation between the football Wildcats and their in-state archrivals from the University of Louisville. The game started at noon, but I had a 1 p.m. appointment to donate blood, so I put myself under a media blackout until I got home to my DVR. My reward was that I got to watch my beloved Wildcats treat the visitors like day six of leftovers — always a satisfying bit of entertainment.
In particular, the game continued a season-long display of the amazing talents of Lynn Bowden, a junior from Youngstown, OH. He started the season as a wide receiver and kick returner, but a series of injuries forced the coaches to move him to quarterback. All he has done this season is lead the team in rushing, receiving (from earlier in the year), and return yardage, while leading the Cats to a winning record and bowl eligibility in a season many of us had written off after the starting quarterback was lost for the season. He won’t win the Heisman, of course, but he may be the single most electrifying player in college football this year. Yesterday was no exception: on a day in which UK threw exactly two passes, the Cats ran for 517 yards, with Bowden accounting for 284 of those — an SEC record for rushing by a quarterback. Oh, and by the way, they crushed Louisville, 45-13.
Bowden is from a dangerous neighborhood in Youngstown, and football has allowed him the opportunity to get an education (with a solid GPA last semester) and likely provide for himself and his two-year-old son, Lynn III.
I hope he makes good decisions and has a productive career. I don’t want yesterday’s win to be his only happy ending.
In fictioneering news, Amazon says that Tuesday is publication day for From Sea to Stormy Sea, and I want to remind you that it makes a wonderful gift for fans of great art and/or great fiction — and if you fit that description, you’d probably like it as well. Meanwhile, early 2020 will see the release of The Darkling Halls of Ivy, Ell Bee’s anthology of stories with an academic theme, including “Alt-Ac,” my story set at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo. Once they read it, I may never be allowed back.
And if you like to plan ahead, I’ll be doing another Noir at the Bar with Mr. Block and some players to be named later on Thursday, 12 March, at Newberry’s Bar Figaro. The last one was great fun, and we’d love to see you there.
Speaking of Mr. Block… well, I’ll let him tell you:
[…M]y students are happy. In fact a couple of them got Humanities Department approval and classroom space for a once-a-week workshop this coming spring. No leader—since I won’t be here, they’ll stage it themselves.
In other words, who needs Professor Block?
Exactly. Which may make it awkward when I come back next fall.
You’re coming back?
Like a coal to Newcastle. Like a bad penny to Capistrano. Lynne and I surprised ourselves by falling in love with the college and the town, so much so that we’ve leased an apartment on Main Street just blocks from the Newberry Opera House. We’ll show up in mid-February to furnish it and get an early start on spring, and I’ll be able to use it as a one-man writer’s colony if I ever feel like writing something.
Which, knowing you, seems likely.
It does, doesn’t it? And come fall I’ll offer the fiction workshop again, along with an experiment, a writing course for non-writers. Self-Realization Through Writing is what I’m calling it, and like the fiction workshop, it’s one where what the students get out of it is in direct proportion to what they put into it.
How cool is that? (Answer: Exceedingly.)
I do have a few things to take care of before tomorrow’s wrap-up classes — finals begin on Thursday — so I’d better close this, and as is my custom, I’ll do it with some music. Jay Telfer was a musician from Toronto in the late 60s, and he put this out on the Sir John A. (presumably for this guy) label in 1968. It’s a little cheesy, a little satirical, and it didn’t change the musical landscape, but I like it, not least because I’ve felt like the vocalist on occasion. So here’s Mr. Telfer, with “Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness (A Hippy Philosophy)”:
And it just occurred to me that he should have done a duet with William Penn of the William Penn Fyve, because then they would have been Penn and Telfer. I’ll show myself out.
See you soon!