Tomorrow is Day One of the spring semester. I’ve taken care of syllabusiness, and all that remains is for me to get up at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning after nearly two months of my natural rhythm (typically going to bed at ten or eleven, and waking up at eight or nine.) So why not get a little blogging in?
I’ve always had issues with my weight — I still do, but it’s been much worse before. After Michael’s trial in 2013, I was getting way too close to a quarter-ton. In the ensuing nearly ten years, I’ve lost well over 100 pounds, and am now right around a mere sixth of a ton. Still too heavy, I know (“You’re wasting away to enormous!”), but compared to where I’ve been, not too shabby. I’m offensive lineman fat now, instead of circus fat.
As part of this, I have a wide (sorry about that) variety of clothing sizes in my wardrobe, and it has become evident that I needed to replace my pants, which had reached the point of fitting me like this:
But honestly, I had little idea what size clothes I even wear these days, so I found myself going to a former neighbor who runs a menswear and haberdashery store here in Mondoville, and he got me squared away. It was very much a favor on his part — he knew his clothes weren’t going to come in my size, but neither was I going to a competitor — Mondoville has no big/tall shops. All the same, he took the time to help me out when it didn’t seem to profit him. It was downright neighborly, and folks like Eddie at Gentleman’s Corner are part of what makes this town a pleasant place to be.
Armed with the measurements I had gathered, I was able to find a deal on a belt and some slacks, which inshallah, will see me through the term without incident. Ah, the thrills of the academic life.
Tuesday marks the release date for Lawrence Block’s Playing Games antho, which includes my bar-trivia-themed story, “Lightning Round.” It’s a little different from my usual stories, not least in that it actually calls for a bit of ratiocination on the protagonist’s part, and I hope on the reader’s as well. While I’m not doing an Ellery Queen “You present the solution” thing here, I will say that I wrote the story without reference to, well, references. The puzzle, such as it is, was composed off the top of my head, and I didn’t look anything up. I do provide the solution in the story, and I hope you think I played fair. Why not order a copy and see how you do?
Life and statistics being what they are, we lost a few more pieces of my past this week. Actor Lance Kerwin died this past Tuesday, at the age of 62. Kerwin starred in the teen dramedy James at 15/James at 16 in the late 70s, playing a character a couple of years below his actual age, but a couple of years older than I was at the time. However, he may be better known for his lead roles in The Loneliest Runner and Salem’s Lot. As is often the case for young actors, life after the spotlight was not always kind to Kerwin. He ran into some legal issues, which left him with probation and community service to perform, and he also had created a Gofundme account to try to revive his acting career.
On the music front, while most of the world has focused on the death of Television guitar genius Tom Verlaine (my friend Will has a nice piece on his discovery of Verlaine’s work here), the percussion world grew a little smaller with the death of Three Dog Night’s drummer, Floyd Sneed. at the age of 80. Three Dog Night featured three exceptional vocalists, including Danny Hutton, of “Roses and Rainbows” fame; Cory Wells, whose The Enemys appeared on the Beverly Hillbillies(!); and Chuck Negron. The band had numerous hits, and along the way did a great deal to promote such artists and songwriters as Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, Paul Williams, and Hoyt Axton. The fact that they didn’t write a lot of their own material was counted against them in the authenticity-obsessed era in which they performed, but as Harlan Ellison (who toured with the band and seemed to be a fan) noted, people don’t hold that against artists like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, or Pavarotti for that matter, so they may have deserved a better critical shake than they usually got. All the way along, Sneed provided clean, thoughtful backing for a series of songs that seemed to be issued on gold records instead of vinyl.
While Axton’s “Joy to the World” was their biggest hit from my childhood memory, I’m going to close with a track a little later in their run. I don’t know where the 8- to 10-year old Mondo heard this, possibly on American Bandstand, which followed the Saturday morning cartoons, but it has stuck in my head throughout the years, and this video includes Sneed grooving along on a lovely kit of single-headed toms, more 70s than which it is hard to get. So Lance, Tom, and Floyd, thanks for adding some decorations to my life when I was growing up and after.
See you soon!