I’m listening to The Band performing “Life Is A Carnival” as the Hound of the Basketballs snoozes one chair over. Later this afternoon, the Spawn and I will deliver the Main Squeeze to the Real City Airport in time to fly back home. But in the meantime…
In my Commencement post, I mentioned that we include a hooding ceremony in our graduation. Typically, that’s done by one of our profs and either an administrator or the college chaplain — this year, it was the Dean of Students, along with my colleague John Lesaine (who in fact was a student of mine during my early years here.)
After the hoopla had concluded, the Spawn told me, “When Dr. Lesaine put my hood on, he whispered, ‘The Spawn graduates.'” Of course, where she’s heading, she isn’t known as the Spawn of Mondo, but it amuses me that she probably always will be when she comes here.
Another activity that kept me hopping as the semester wrapped up was the hiring of a new colleague in the English program. We had two excellent finalists, but we could only pick one. As it turns out, the new addition has contributed to a journal and blog I like quite a lot, and also plays guitar. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better.
In fictioneering news, it’s publication day for Greasepaint and .45s, the new clown-themed antho from the nice folks at Down & Out.
Ryan Sayles has put together a fine roster of writers, and I’m in there as well, with my story “Command Performance.” Here’s a little background — and I promise it’ll make sense when you read the story.
My brother was constantly getting injured. He has pushed the envelope all his life, and of course, sometimes the envelope pushes back. He’s broken his nose innumerable times (finally reaching the point at which he would just put it back in place himself), and has broken most of the bones from elbows to hands — the consequence of going over the handlebars on his bicycle during the era of Evel Knievel. Between these small disasters and his occasional asthma attacks, my folks spent a lot of time taking him to the hospital across the river in Cincinnati. It reached the point that orderlies would take him aside just to make sure Mom and Dad weren’t thrashing him. Although neither Mike nor I were strangers to corporal punishment — we grew up in the South with a working class background, after all — it never reached anything near that level, and Mike would invariably explain how many bricks high the latest ramp had been.
But once, he had to stay at Children’s Hospital for a few days. When I was a teenager, Mike (who is 4-and-a-half years younger than I am) had a habit of wanting to wrestle with my friends and me. One day in my senior year of high school, he went after a guitarist of mine, and in the ensuing play fracas my brother picked up a rug burn on his arm. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but in a few days, it was evident that it was infected, and pretty seriously, so he wound up spending time at Children’s while they pumped meds into him.
One of the things we learned was that local celebs would come by the hospital to visit the kids, and that was how Mike wound up shooting a rack of 8-ball with Johnny Bench. My folks were there at the time, and they reported that Bench is a pretty good pool player, and that the size of his hands has not been exaggerated.
So anyway, the idea of folks who visit hospitals to cheer the kids has stuck with me over the years. If you want to see how it played out for me, pick up a copy of Greasepaint and .45s.
Meanwhile, it’s also possible to place an advance order for From Sea to Stormy Sea, the next art-themed antho from Lawrence Block. My story “Silver at Lakeside” is in there, inspired by my father’s painting, Homage to “Les Fauves.” While the promo copy at Amazon neglects to mention me, it’s a bit dated. Dad and I are in there, and I hope you’ll order it, or at least pick it up when it becomes available on 1 Oct.
And since I have a few weeks off before I teach my customary summer courses, I hope to get to work on another commissioned story soon. Details as I have them.
Well, it’s lunchtime, so I think I’ll wrap this one up in my traditional manner. Peter Miller is something of a 60s rock Zelig, having appeared on bills with the Beatles, Stones, and most of the rest of the British Invasion. He’s also worked as a songwriter, engineer, and producer, and after moving to San Francisco in the 70s, did a lot of work with the Bay Area punk scene. This track is from 1965, and copies of it command a pretty tidy sum. I like the snotty post-teen vocals combined with the spastic clangor of the backing track. This is “Baby I Got News for You.”
See you soon!