Because of the combination of Labor Day and my departure to Minneapolis this week, I’m only teaching on Tuesday this week, though I do have some grading to do. But how better to procrastinate about grading than to write a blog post?
I’ve spent the last couple of days watching sports — primarily those here in Mondoville. Friday night I caught our volleyballers in action as they squashed Valdosta State’s squad in straight sets. In fact, they went 4-0 over the weekend, which proved to be a good one in general for the various groups of Wolves.
Last night was the football season opener, as we welcomed the Allen U Yellowjackets to town and sent them back home to Real City with a 40-6 whomping. However, the game was not the apex of my fandom.
First of all, the game was delayed for slightly over an hour due to lightning in the area. I arrived just in time to see the stands emptying out for the delay and the accompanying rain. Don’t get me wrong — this was not only required by NCAA rules, but it was also the right thing to do (those things intersect every once in a while.). Unlike the sports palaces we typically see on the major college and pro levels, down here in Division II, Mondoville’s home is the oldest venue in South Carolina and no one who visits doubts it in the least. Significant improvements have been made, and more are in process, but the stands are still steel-and aluminum bleachers, and though we want our fans to be galvanized, we don’t quite mean it that way. So I hung out by the ticket office during the showers, and the fans were readmitted about half an hour after the original scheduled kickoff. Half an hour after that, it was game time.
At evening games, I typically get my dinner at the stadium. This time, it meant a BBQ sandwich plate from one of the food trucks in the stadium’s Southeast corner. All well and good…
You know how I talk about being a klutz? Well, I proved it once again. I got to my seat and opened the styrofoam carton with my sandwich and baked beans. But the stands were crowded, and in the process of getting shifted around, getting slightly bumped, and not devoting proper attention to the tray’s balance, the sandwich and fork fell out of the carton and my $15 dinner was suddenly reduced to a few beans and no utensils. I tried to clear some of the detritus from the aisleway, but wasn’t entirely successful. At least I had my lemonade.
After the game (which was not as close as the score indicates — we left at least a couple of TDs on the table), Mrs. M came to give me a ride back to the house. Upon hearing my Tale of Awkwardness and Woe (TM pending), she may have giggled a little (I mean, after a third of a century of my bumbling, there’s really no other honest response), but encouraged me to have another go at dinner, which a fast-food place cheerfully provided for a nominal fee.
Both the Wolves and I are on the road this weekend, but I’ll be back in the stands in a couple of weeks. Maybe next time I’ll be able to keep it together.
Despite my misadventures last night, I woke up in a terrific mood this morning, because I’m looking forward to getting back to Bouchercon for the first time in three years. What’s more, I discovered that Uncle Edgar’s and Uncle Hugo’s (famous bookstores specialiing in crimefic and SF respectively) have reopened in a new location. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to check them out, but I’m always glad to see bookstores like this sticking around in an age when so many have been drowned by the Big River.
This will be my first trip to Minneapolis in 20+ years — I presented at an academic conference there sometime during my grad school days, where I earned an anecdote. I don’t remember the hotel where I was staying, but it was downtown, and as a fan of Tom Waits, I wanted to go to an intersection from one of his songs.
En route, I noticed an arcade, and thought I’d have a go at a couple of games of the pinball or video variety. It was in fall, so it was relatively cool and I was wearing a sport coat, a white button-down shirt, and jeans. As I approached, I noticed a knot of downtown teens in the entryway. When they noticed me, they parted like the Red Sea, and as I walked in, I heard one say, “Good evening, Officer.” When I emerged after a few minutes, they were nowhere to be seen. I’ve been mistaken for security at rock shows before (especially if I’m wearing a black T-shirt), but I think that’s the only time that anyone made the complete trip.
I doubt the arcade is still there, but I likely wouldn’t have time for that anyway, as I’ll be busy B’conning. Just a reminder that I’ll be on a Thursday afternoon panel, talking about music and crime fiction at 3 p.m. along with some really terrific writers, including Jim Fusilli, Cheryl Head, Sharon Michalove, and Holly West. I, of course, will be “that other guy.”
And since we’re talking about music and mystery, this strikes me as a good time to mention that “Lightning Round”, my story in Lawrence Block’s new Playing Games antho, happens to have a musical motif. You can find out for yourself by pre-ordering the book here . Less musical but still criminous, you can preorder Black Is the Night, which includes my Cincinnati-based period piece “The Jacket” here, and of course Death of a Bad Neighbour (with my “particularly alarming” story “One of Us Is Dying”) is still available for purchase.
In any case, if you happen to be Boucherconning and you’re aware of this blog or my other work, look me up — I’d love to see (or even meet) you! And if you aren’t there, don’t worry too much — I’ll try to keep you up to date on my adventures.
I’ll go ahead and wrap this one up with some Twin Cities garage rock. The Ready Men (not to be confused with Eugene, OR-based ska-punkers The Readymen) were from Minnetonka, and supplied a mix of surly surf and frantic frat stompers, with occasional gigs at local department stores. As you might guess, they weren’t much on subtlety, as evidenced by this A-side of their 1964 single. (Thirty years later, the garage archaeologists at Norton Records released an album of the band’s work, but this was their sole release at the time.) Here’s a beer-soaked, punked-out version of. . . “Shortnin’ Bread.”
See you in Minneapolis, or whenever we meet!