Why yes, yes he did. And I still do. However, I’ve been doing other stuff as well, and so I’ve been lax over here. On the upside, I started this blog ten years ago as a means of therapy, so maybe this indicates that I’m less of a basket case than I used to be. Oh, who am I kidding? So here we go…
So we last spoke in late July. Since then, Mrs. M and I made a trip to Terpville to see the Spawn and her Main Squeeze, who has herself been admitted to the School of Terpitude. We were there for a few days — enough time to provision the girls, enjoy takeout Korean food, have a spectacular beef bourguignon made by the Squeeze, and goof around a fair amount at the apartment. We spread the drive up over two days, and had planned to do the same thing coming home, but the hotel we booked in Fayetteville, NC turned out to have a high creepiness factor, so we schlepped on home in a single shot. (In point of fact, I didn’t see anything in Fayetteville that made me anxious to return. I have at least one friend in the area, but the parts I saw left a lot to be desired. I’m sure some parts are lovely. I didn’t see those.)
But it was great to see the girls, since we likely won’t meet up again until Christmas, and that’s assuming we can find a relatively secure way to get them down here. It’s okay, though — the Spawn is thriving up there, and looking forward to her new semester. She’s doing her classes and her assistantship remotely for the term, and is happy about both. Which is sort of the point, and which makes me think we’ve done okay so far.
On the political front, I regret to report that the Mad Dog’s campaign for County Commissioner in the Knoxville burbs didn’t turn out as he had hoped. He lost by about 900 votes, or 54-46%, if you prefer. Given that he’s a Dem in a district that has been red for a very long time, and that the GOP had large turnout for a hotly contested Senate primary, I think his performance was fairly impressive.
More importantly, he did a lot of things he set out to do. He self-financed his campaign (donor influence is an important issue for him), he ran it in a gentlemanly fashion, and most importantly, he gave the citizens of his district an actual choice, rather than an uncontested election. When we chatted online after the polls had closed, I reminded him of the quote attributed to Ed Koch after he lost an election: “The people have spoken, and now they must be punished.” In any case, I suspect the Mad Dog will continue in the honorable role of gadfly — and who knows? Now that he has the campaign bug, we may see him kissing hands and shaking babies again sometime.
The depredations of COVID continue. The College informed our student-athletes yesterday that our athletic conference has suspended all fall sports until the spring semester (and of course, all such announcements these days include a tacit “…if then.”) In the classrooms, we’re working toward what is called a “soft opening,” with students trickling in over the next few weeks. Classes will be taught face-to-face — and online simultaneously, for the students who aren’t able to do the face-to-face thing for whatever reason. There will be portions of all courses that will take place more or less exclusively online as well. (Of course, there’s a distinct possibility that the whole business will go virtual at some point in the term anyway, but at least in that case, much of the educational/technological infrastructure will be in place. We hope.)
My colleagues are scrambling to figure out how they’ll keep all these balls in the air, and I’ve heard from a number of them that I was extremely lucky that my sabbatical coincides with all this. But of course, I’d say that there’s little reason to expect Spring semester to be a return to the Garden, so I’m paying at least some attention to all this, lest it hit me all at once at the calendar year’s end. I’m also attending meetings, this week’s virtual in-service days, and the other online gatherings of this strange new year.
Mrs. M is trying to get her classroom ready as well, which also is a much more complicated affair than usual. As things stand, she’ll be teaching two small face-to-face classes — one meeting on Mondays and Thursdays, the other on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be online work days, as well as opportunities for the teachers to take care of meetings, reports, and the other hassles that come with the gig.
We shall see.
In more upbeat news, I have been doing some writing on my own, getting rolling on the creative work for which I took the sabbatical. I’m not going to jinx myself by talking it out, but I may be onto something.
A key part of this process has been following the method developed by the late Jerrold Mundis in his book Break Writer’s Block Now! I don’t know if it’ll work forever, and I don’t know if it’ll work for everyone, but it seems to be working for me so far, and if you’re having problems getting rolling, maybe it can help you as well.
(As an aside, one of Mundis’s pieces of advice is not to journal as you build yourself back up. That’s actually been a factor in my radio silence. But here I am, right?)
And to close with some music, here’s another favorite of mine from Translator. While their early 80s work would have fit in nicely with the Paisley Underground scene of that period in LA, this San Francisco band would have been at the harder end of that spectrum. This song, from the final album of their original run, was a highlight of the live set, and often an occasion for extended jams. Even this studio version comes in a hair under 5 minutes, but you can hear the potential for the Big Trip. One really cool aspect of it for me is when drummer Dave Scheff takes what amounts to a lead break about 2:10 into the track, and reminds us that drums can be as musical as any other instrument. From 1986, this is “Tolling of the Bells.”
See you soon, I hope!