I’d like to lead this post off by wishing a happy 79th birthday to Lawrence Block. In the course of a writing career that spans six decades, he has inspired plenty of writers (including Your Genial Host), and through his books on the craft of writing he has mentored many others (including Your Genial Host’s students.) More importantly, in the years in which I’ve known him, he has been gracious, kind, and funny — as they say in his part of the country, a mensch. (Oddly, Yiddish loanwords are not common parlance in Mondoville.)
I’m delighted to know him, and honored to have met his amazing wife and daughters as well. Happy birthday, LB — thanks for the work, and for being who you are. Hope to see you in Toronto, and even after.
Yesterday was a full day at the college, the first of four Freshpeep orientations for the summer. In my case, this meant spending the morning with two of my departmental colleagues scoring placement essays for FroshComp, and then spending the afternoon setting up schedules and getting acquainted with about ten of the kids.
Historically, I haven’t done much advising — we’re a small major at a small college — and almost no Freshpeep advising, as English tends to be a major that kids discover once they get here, rather than one they had coming in. Add to that the fact that I’m not much for organization (I have a mind like the Collyer Brothers‘ junk drawer), and you’ll see that I haven’t thought of advising as a strength of mine. However, I was asked to serve as a mentor to some of our incoming students as part of a new program intended to strengthen our retention abilities, and so there I was yesterday.
I’ll be working with about a score of them this year, and as I said, I met half of them yesterday afternoon. They seem to be good kids, and it’s fun to see the mix of excitement and nerves on display — and theirs, too. I had put together tentative schedules for them a couple of weeks ago, and while some required tweaking (a couple of changed minds about majors, and some kids with AP credit), things were generally pretty smooth. It was a long day, but I think a rewarding one. I heard from one of the kids via e-mail this morning, and I closed my reply by saying “Welcome to [Mondoville]. We’re glad — I’m glad — you’re here.” And I am.
For those of you with an interest in such matters, or those who merely miss my dulcet tones (often compared to the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey), I’ll be appearing on Greg Barth’s Noir on the Radio podcast this evening, as part of a panel discussing the work of Jim Thompson, one of the dark princes of crime fiction. I think it’ll be a good time, and if you want to, you can set up a pool to see how long it takes me to mention that Thompson and I share a birthday — I was born on his 59th. Whatever you pick, I’ll likely take the Under.
You can catch it live tonight at 9 Eastern time here; if and when it comes up in downloadable form, I’ll let you know.
Well, I have to dash to Real City to do a little research, which I’ll write up tomorrow for a bibliography to which I contribute. It’s not a glamorous sort of scholarship, but I think it’s a useful one. So I’ll leave you, but as usual, I give you a bit of music as I go. This one’s from Atlanta-based power popsters The Producers. They put out a couple of albums in the 80s, and two of their songs (including this one) were minor hits. The guys have gone on to different parts of their lives, but they reunite occasionally for shows, and I hear they remain a lot of fun. So here they are with one of their hits, “What’s He Got.”
See you soon!