The avalanche begins tomorrow, as I receive research papers from my two sections of FroshComp and my HotEL kids. On Tuesday, I’ll receive a bonus buffeting from my Seven Deadlies class. And there are still a couple of minor papers and finals to go. This was not my original plan, but my adventures in illness blew up my schedule for the term. Still, that’s tomorrow, so meanwhile…
Friday afternoon was quite fun, as I sat down with LB and my colleague David Rachels for a conversation among crime writers at Newberry College, for future “airing” in various forms — online and in the pages of Dimensions, the College’s alumni magazine. I’ll let you know if and as it becomes available.
Because El Bee and I got there first, we took the chairs on the flanks of the stage, leaving David the seat in the middle. We didn’t know this, but our choices also left David to act as interlocutor for the session, although that may have been connected to the fact that he wore a tie. The three of us talked about the ups and downs of fictioneering, teaching, and the intersections of those with one another and with life. I learned things when I could keep my mouth shut, and I think we all had a good time, even if David’s Fitbit accused him of taking a nap.
In the meantime, my advance copy of From Sea to Stormy Sea arrived a few days ago, and so I officially got to see what I’ve come to consider a collaboration with my dad.
At least one early review (from Thomas Pluck, a fine writer in his own right) was very kind to my story, and the general sense seems to be that the whole book is terrific. I’m inclined to agree. Of course, you can find out for yourself, and it would also make a fine gift for your friends who like fiction, art, or combinations of the two.
I’ve worked in a lot of sport watching this weekend, catching two victories for Mondoville’s men’s basketball squad and switching to the television as my beloved Kentucky Wildcats football squad became bowl-eligible. Admittedly, the football win yesterday was over a tomato can, but I’ve still had a great deal of fun watching the team hang in there after a series of injuries forced the coaches to go to an all-running, all the time offense. There’s something pleasing about watching opposing defenses know what’s coming, and still fail to stop it. It takes the assertion of will that is at the heart of many sports to a very pure form.
(Incidentally, this is one of the things that I find interesting about boxing and other combat sports, although I have no desire to participate in those. Football and basketball use moving the ball (down the field, through the basket) as a substitute for naked aggression. Combat sports, however, take it to a primal level: “I am going to attempt to inflict pain on you. You will stop it, or you won’t.” There’s something compelling about the honesty of that, and about the physical courage of the participants.)
As it happens, the Mondoville men’s hoopsters are working under a new coach. You may recall that I was on the committee that hired him, and I’ve taught or am teaching several players, so I may have an even greater emotional stake in the team’s success than previously. It’s a long season, of course, with ups and downs, but it’s a great deal of fun seeing them out there competing. And another cool point about life in a small college town — at any given ball game, there’s a chance you may run into the mayor, there to cheer the college on. He was there yesterday afternoon, and it was good to chat with him as we walked to our cars after the game. I taught his son as well, a few semesters back — small town life.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m pleased to report that this Spring, I’ll be teaching an upper-level course focusing on the work of Harlan Ellison. I’m excited about it, but a little nervous as well — I’ve taught short units on Harlan’s work before, but nothing at this level of depth. Wish me luck.
I’d best wrap things up at this point, but there’s always time for a bit of music. Seattle’s Green Pajamas are a band who have shown up here on several occasions, but I keep finding new work of theirs (not surprising, as the group has recorded more than 30 albums over the last 34 years) that I want to share. Here’s some of it.
See you soon!