Well, not literally, but we are post-Thanksgiving, and once again, I found a great deal for which to be thankful, not least of all, your willingness to read my assorted meanderings. And since I’ve just graded a batch of papers, let’s get to those meanderings, shall we?
Mrs. M and I spent a large chunk of the break on the road, visiting her mom (or as the Spawn calls her, Grandma) up in Lost-in-the-Woods County, KY, This allowed me to give the Blue Meanie a proper shakedown cruise, and by the journey’s end, the odometer had made it past the thousand-mile mark. I established base camp at a low-budget motel about half a mile from Grandma’s apartment. Grandma herself seems to be flourishing well enough. While she still is not entirely over some of the injuries and medical issues of the past few years, she seems to have most things under control, and can get around under her own power a fair amount of the time, We all found this encouraging.
Mrs. M handled the cooking during our stay, leaving Grandma and me to watch television. Because she has home field advantage, Grandma and I watched a great deal of old-school TV, from 50s Westerns (Wagon Train! The Rifleman!) to Adam-12. We even got to enjoy a Gunsmoke two-parter about the hazards of boiling nitroglycerin out of dynamite. One of the things that struck me was that while the pace of these episodes would likely be seen as dull by today’s standards, I thought the slower pace allowed more room to build suspense and to explore even secondary characters as we went along. It was also surprising to discover how well I remembered the Adam-12 theme music. (Of course, readers of James Ellroy can’t really approach Jack Webb productions in quite the same manner we once did, but it’s still a good TV experience, reminding me of many Saturday evenings at my own grandparents’ house in the 1970s.
We came back yesterday, stopping at the halfway point (Johnson City, TN) for lunch and a bookstore run (well, for me, anyway — Mrs. M preferred to check out TJ Maxx.) I got a frozen coffee for dessert, and found a paperback copy of a recent Megan Abbott novel I can tuck into once the grading settles down. As an added bonus, I can pass it to the Spawn when she gets into town at Christmastime.
I happened to be wearing my “Crime Writer” T-shirt yesterday, and as Mrs. M and I reunited at the bookstore, a woman I didn’t know commented on the shirt. I got the opportunity to plug my work, and to feel at least marginally significant for a minute or two. But the highway was calling, and we got home and settled in just in time for me to watch the second half of Kentucky’s win over archrival Louisville for the Governor’s Cup — the fourth consecutive Cup victory for my beloved Wildcats, putting a nice cap on a somewhat disappointing season. To be fair, it’s a weird feeling for a UK fan to see a winning football season as a letdown, so I think that’s testament to how the program has improved in recent years.
Of course, I also returned to the official arrival of Gradeapalooza, and a couple of student crises, but those are to be expected at this time of year. It was a good trip, and a fine start to Turkey Season — in fact, Mrs. M is cooking another one (the annual freebie from the college) this very afternoon, with another one to come when the Spawn and Main Squeeze arrive.
One of the neat aspects of the drive this time was the presence of satellite radio on this trip — the Blue Meanie comes with a trial subscription. This allowed me a trip blessedly free of pop-country and radio preachers. I was even able to enjoy my Spotify feed as the spirit moved me. This last will come in handy when the satellite subscription expires, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
Since I mentioned writing a little while ago, I just want to remind you that Playing Games, the new Lawrence Blockthology that contains my story “Lightning Round,” will be coming your way in just a few weeks. . . assuming that you order it, that is. Meanwhile, Black is the Night (with my historical story, “The Jacket”, will look really good under your Christmas tree as well, so why not check it out?
And with that, let’s wrap up this particular batch of potpourri. In keeping with the theme of Thanksgiving and other harvestide rituals, this seems like a good, slightly wintry piece from one of my favorite mands. From their 1986 Evening of the Harvest LP, here’s the title cut.
See you soon!
Must say I’m a huge fan of the Rifleman. I’ve seen every episode, and even took note of the consistency in the town layout (I do believe I could find my way around North Fork, NMT). Even in its last season, the quality of its writing held up and it differed from other Westerns in how dark and ugly life could be.