Monday, October 24, 2005

Mama Mia, Hold the Kia!

I just got a call from the mechanic and the problem is a heater hose, not the head gasket. Maybe I'll keep the old bomb after all. At least until it's paid off, which is only 4 or 5 months away.

I confess I watch a lot of courtroom TV shows, and one thing I've noticed is that the bailiff is always in contrast to the judge. Note:

Judge Judy--White female judge / black mail bailiff
People's Court--Hispanic female judge / black male bailiff
Judge Joe Brown--Black male judge / white female bailiff
Divorce Court--Black female judge / white male bailiff
Judge Alex--White male judge / black male bailiff
Texas Justice--White male judge / black male bailiff
Judge Mathis--Black male judge / white male bailiff

I don't know what, if any, significance there is in all this, but it does indicate that someone thinks there ought to be ethnic/gender diversity between the judge and the bailiff (sometimes called the court officer).

I was at a thrift store earlier and checked out the books. I found a western from Belmont Tower (HOT LEAD, by Dwight Bruckner, 1977). I like finding books from the second-string publishers, and I wish there were more houses like BT around these days. We do have some small imprints, but most of them are of better quality than BT and its ilk.

For the first time in ages I hit four numbers on the lottery. I won $30, which I reinvested in tickets. I won $9.00 on them. I added a buck of my own and got $10 worth of tickets, which I parlayed into zero dollars. This has made me wonder if the lottery evolved out of Man's desire to get something for nothing or if there is an Intelligent Design promulgated by The Lottery Gods. Angry, vengeful, Lottery Gods, at that. I'm deep in matters like this.

Never Fails

I told the family last week that as soon as I got my advance from Tekno Books something would happen to eat it up--either my car or computer. Saturday I got the check, Sunday the car started having problems. I'm pretty sure the expensive head gasket job I had done 5-6 months ago gave out. Later today I'll take it to the shop--assuming it'll go that far--and have it repaired again. Then I'm going to trade it in on something else. I'm ashamed to say I've been thinking of a new Kia. Yeah, I know they're chintzy little jokes, but they're cheap and the warranty is pretty good. And I'm sick of used cars. Filling the tank on my pimpmobile is costing about $45 a shot. I need something with better mileage.
As you may recall, when I got my lawsuit settlement I had to immediately spent about half of it fixing that lemon. It is written on the stars, I guess, that Cap'n Bob is not allowed to have money. Thanks a heap, stars.

I want to wish Ed Gorman the best of luck with his cancer treatments. I've said it before and I'll say it again, no one has done more for mystery writers and the mystery community at large than Ed. Come back, Ed. We need you.

Sandra Scoppettone has recanted her statement that paperback books are on the way out. Her industry source didn't know what he or she was talking about, apparently. That's good news, or non-news as the case may be. And that source ought to get a job in the crumbling Bush administration.

How about those White Sox?
How about those Seahawks?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fall Preview

The leaves are clogging my gutters, it's raining more often, and I'm colder at night. It must be Fall.

As always in this irregular blog, I have to backtrack. Let us cast our memories to late August. I flew to Milwaukee to visit old pal Beth Fedyn for a few days before driving down to Chicago with her for Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention. The visit was generally pleasant, marred only by one of her dogs trying to rend my flesh whenever my back was turned. I solved that by not turning my back, but I could have done without the cur altogether.
When I wasn't being a chew toy for Cujo I had a nice time seeing the local sights, breaking my diet shamelessly, and invading used book stores. I loaded up on old western paperbacks that I would mail home later.

Then it was on to Chicago and B'con. I must admit I loved the city, at least the area where the convention was held, at The Sheraton Hotel near Lake Michigan. The con was a lot of fun, too. I saw old friends, made a couple of new ones, and reacquainted myself with the tasty libation known as the whiskey sour. Not that I've become a sot, but I'm not above having a cocktail or two if I go out to dinner. I'm lucky in that drinking heavily has never appealed to me.
Among the fun things I did at the con was have a look at the Navy Pier complex, take an evening excursion on a sightseeing boat along the waterfront, visit a park whose name I can never remember (the one with the chrome bean and the spitting woman), hike around the streets with various friends, touch a piece of the Alamo imbedded in the Dearborn Building, watch Bill Crider win the Don Sandstrom Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement as a mystery fan, take in the view from the 80th floor of the Aon Building, eat a decent banquet meal at the same building, see Beth Fedyn get her B'con Fan Guest of Honor Award at the banquet, buying more books than I should, and meeting Polly the P.I and Elizabeth Becka.

Then it was back to Wisconsin to relax for a couple of days before flying home. My return flight was supposed to be Milwaukee to Minneapolis to Bosie to Sea-Tac, but bad weather in Minneapolis grounded our connecting flight. We were rerouted to Denver and thence to Sea-Tac, saving us an extra takeoff and landing. We also got in ahead of schedule. However, my luggage never got transferred so I had to go home without it. The good news is that it was delievered to my door the next morning, saving me from having to schlepp it around. It would be another week before the two boxes of books I mailed from Oconomowoc appeared, but by then I was caught up with deadlines for Dapa-Em, Slan-Apa, and OWLHOOT. I didn't have time to even open the boxes until another week had passed, and have since read only one of the books I picked up on the road.
That book is HEARTSTONE, by D.C. Brod, and I enjoyed it a lot. It's a modern fantasy/quest story with underpinnings of the Arthurian legend. If you've read Debbie's Quint McCauley books you know she's a good writer, but these are very different and show a completely different side of her talent. I also had an old western I read at work during slack time and finished it. Otherwise, my reading for September has been nil.

In a couple of weeks my Stephanie turns 16. I can't believe it. I remember the minute she was born as clearly as though it happened yesterday.
My other girl, Kristine, is going to try out for the school play this week. They're doing The Matchmaker, by Thornton Wilder. Kristine will be 15 in December. When I think of what a useless do-nothing I was at those ages I cringe. I really am impressed by the ambition and courage of both these kids. They sure didn't inherit that from me.

Do you remember the scene in THE GOOD EARTH when the couple with the new baby go a temple to thank the gods for their child? They keep the kid under wraps and protest that it's a sickly, ugly child and will be of no use to their family farm. They do this, we are told, lest the gods covet the child (who was in fact quite healthy and attractive) and take it from them. I know how they feel. I just had a bit of good news that I fear trumpeting lest the gods snatch it from my grasp.
But I'll risk it. Five Star has agreed to buy my novel LOVE, DEATH, AND THE TOYMAN. Imagine that. Me, a novelist. I've written articles for professional publication before, and tons of fannish works, but this would be the first time I'll have a novel published. Honestly, it doesn't seem real. It's like the head cheerleader is lusting after me--I know there's a second shoe waiting to drop. But, unless it does, I'm going to ride out this high for a while.