July is drawing near, so I just hit the reset button on the AC unit and am sitting in my basement grotto, listening to David Bowie covering the Velvets’ “White Light/Heat.” The Spawn is splitting her time between recovering from a week of wrangling little kids at the YMCA Day Camp, planning for her exodus to Maryland around this time next month, and chatting with the Main Squeeze. Mrs. M is likely out shopping — she asked me earlier if I’d like hot dogs for the Fourth.
So I’m doing all right, but won’t let that stop me from blogging.
Things seem to be getting uncomfortably interesting up in the Last Frontier. Within the last couple of hours, Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed the portion of the state budget that funds the U of Alaska. Combined with pre-exisiting cuts, that’s about a 40% hit to the University’s budget. Per the U’s president:
The Board of Regents met in emergency session today. They directed me to take immediate action to eliminate expenditures in the fiscal year that begins this Monday. Furlough notices will be distributed immediately to all university staff. In addition we will institute an immediate freeze on hiring, travel and new contracts. However, we simply can’t meet these budget targets without laying off a large number of people. In the event an override is not secured, the Regents also directed me to prepare a plan for declaring financial exigency by July 15th. This declaration permits the university to more rapidly discontinue programs and academic units, and to start the unprecedented process of removing tenured faculty.
One hopes that calmer heads will prevail and avert a bloodbath that would make Countess Bathory flinch. However, if there are high school seniors in the 49th State who want to go to college somewhere warmer…
Here at Mondoville, meanwhile, things are perking along. I finished my summer courses midweek, and have begun my decompression process. It was a strange summer term for me, as the classrooms where I normally teach are being renovated, which meant that I spent most of the month holding my FroshComp class in the library. It worked pretty well, I think, but I think I’ll feel better in my natural habitat. (The second course, a survey of Brit Lit (“1200 Years in 18 Days!”) was taught online, the second time I’ve tried that. I think it ran more smoothly this time.) And stepping away from the classroom (or the class webpage) this week allowed me to get back to writing, which brings us to…
“Alt-Ac.” It’s a story that will appear in The Darkling Halls of Ivy, a new antho edited by the estimable Mr. Block, my fellow faculty member this autumn. As one might guess from the title, the theme for this one is stories set in academia. Oddly enough, he thought I might be a pretty good pick for such a gig, so I wrote a merry little tale set at a place I know fairly well, the International Congress on Medieval Studies, which takes place each year at Western Michigan U in Kalamazoo. So if that whets your appetite a bit, you might want to keep an eye out for the book’s release. Per Mr. B:
[A] wonderful complement of writers have signed up for The Darkling Halls of Ivy; it’ll be a cross-genre collection of stories set in the world of higher education, and as with AHITD, Subterranean will bring it out in hardcover while I self-publish the ebook and paperback editions. I have five stories already in hand, and they’re outstanding, and I anticipate no less of the rest. Stay tuned—as soon as I have pre-order information, be assured I’ll let you know.
And you’ll have it as soon as I do. A heads-up: if you want the hardcover version, the wisest course of action would be to order directly from the publisher. The hardcover version of At Home in the Dark sold out before official release, leaving folks who ordered it from the usual sources high and dry. Again, I’ll give you the wheres and hows as I get them.
I can tell you, however, that as usual, LB has shaken some fine names from his Rolodex (and I wonder how long that image will work — O tempura! O sushi!). Some of my fellow contributors will include Jill D. Block, Reed Farrel Coleman, Jane Hamilton, John Lescroart, Peter Lovesey (who will pick up a Lifetime Achievement recognition at Bouchercon 2019, btw), and David Morrell. When I see my own name on covers and contents pages with these folks — and the many others with whom I’ve had the opportunity to appear — I’m reminded of how lucky I’ve been to do this.
I may have mentioned this in the past (indeed, I have), but there’s a passage in one of my favorite books (Jim Bouton’s Ball Four), the pitcher talks about. . . well, I’ll let me-three-years-ago say it:
Bouton is talking about being late in his major league career, and how sometimes he doesn’t feel the excitement he felt, say, running onto the field at Yankee Stadium as a rookie. “Sometimes,” he says, “I forget to tingle.”
I’m more in touch with the earlier Bouton, who wore number 56 throughout his career because he said it reminded him how close he was to not making the club — established players in his era typically were assigned low uniform numbers. I haven’t forgotten to tingle yet, and I doubt I ever will. And I’m always thrilled to be on the roster. I’ll wear 56 proudly.
And speaking of anthologies, I’d like to remind you of the recently released Greasepaint and .45s, and that From Sea to Stormy Sea is available for advance order. Thanks as always for selecting my work (and that of the folks with lower jersey numbers) for your entertainment options.
And for our closing number, I’d like to go back to an old favorite — well, he’s younger than I am, but you get what I mean. I’ve liked him a long time. Anyway… here’s — not “Wonderwall” (which I didn’t even like when I covered it in a band with the Mad Dog — who returned to his blog after a 4-year hiatus, by the way), but PT Walkley with Track Rabbit, doing “Man About to Die.”
See you soon!