Red Sox

A pox...

I believe in diversity and I believe in tolerance, and I can prove it. I have friends who are Cubs fans and I have friends who are Cardinals fans and I still accept them. They are welcome in our home and they know it, showing up for our First Friday gatherings, as well as other times, with regularity, making those times more fun. I am okay with their wearing their teams' paraphernalia and keeping me up to date with their teams' successes and failures. They are intelligent fans who know the game, appreciate the history of their teams, and are aware of the thousands of statistics that only major league baseball can generate (right-handed hitting Ernie Forbles' batting average the day after a night game on the road in June when the sun is shining and lefty reliever Portnoy Rackowitz is pitching with  a 2-1 count).

My friendship and expansive tolerance is partly based on sympathy because, with the Cubs every century or so with a World Series championship notwithstanding, their teams are, well, inferior. Inferior to what, you might ask. Inferior to my team, for 62 years now, the Boston Red Sox. We have better fans, history, ballpark, city, players, management, and more nuns in the stands.

But tolerance and welcoming diversity only go so far, and they do not include embracing fans of the Forces of Evil, the New York Yankees. A pox on their houses

Taking a Page from Stephen King

Some famous author once said that when a writer finishes writing their novel, a sort of depression sets in, not unlike the postpartum blues women suffer from right after having a baby. I can't relate to postpartum depression, nor can I say rightly that I get down after completing the last chapter of a novel.  you see, I just finished the last chapter to my work, a 97,000-word "upmarket commercial" effort.  And I did not get depressed.  What I wanted to do was immediately start revising, so I did, looking specifically for two of my blind spots - passive voice and "echo," a term we writers use to describe using the same important word twice within close proximity of each other.  That proximity blind spot can be annoying, a speed bump interfering with the reader's flow and proximity to a smooth narrative.

So I did that, weeding out my blind spots.  What's next, you may ask?

When Stephen King finishes a novel, he sets it aside for a month or more and does something else, such as going for long walks or watching Boston Red Sox games, or reading what other writers are publishing.

My urge was to get back to working on my fourth Thomas O'Shea novel, since the first two are published (Signs of Struggle 2012 and A Far Gone Night 2014) and a third (The Face on the Other Side) is scheduled for an early 2017 release.  So I plan to get after number four in the series, Of Mists and Murders.

I am a professional writer, so I have a compulsion to write, and I am itching to produce that next O'Shea novel, and it nags at me.  But first, I am going to follow King's example and take some time off, starting with a long road trip with my bride, watching college football on TV (especially my Iowa Hawkeyes), and enjoying the changing of the seasons leading into my favorite month - October.

I will, however, keep a notebook in close proximity at all times, just in case I need to jot down a piece of dialogue that comes to mind, a vivid setting, or a conflict among my characters I had not thought of previously.

So, no more blogs for a while, but please look to hear from me and my writer's journey when the leaves turn to gold and orange and red.king


too_many_T-shirts_2 I have reached my limit on t-shirts. I finally paid attention to why my t-shirt drawer was so stuffed, as was the other t-shirt drawer. Not counting white t-shirts that I wear under regular shirts with collars, I have 15, FIFTEEN t-shirts with various statements on them.

Here they are: Boston Red Sox, Boston '13 World Champs, Boston Red Sox World Champs (in Hebrew), "I might live in South Carolina but I keep my sox in Boston," Newberry College, Narnia College (a favorite), Eastern Connecticut State University, black IOWA, white IOWA Football, Beware of Dawg (U. Of Georgia with famous picture on the back of Uga going after the Auburn player), black Wales, Israeli Defense Forces, POEM (Professional Organization of English Majors on back), "If you can't see Paris Mountain you're too far from home" (we live back up against Paris Mountain), and "Careful or you'll end up in my novel."

That's it, FIFTEEN t-shirts with a message. I intend to donate at least half to a charity. Some are so threadbare I'll recycle them into the trash. It will be hard, but no one who lives in a cozy cottage needs to have that many t-shirts taking up space. When that's done, I think I'll get a t-shirt with "Efficiency" across the chest.

I'm afflicted

One of my goals this Spring Break was to finish the first draft of novel #3 in the Thomas O'Shea series. Just a few chapters, going back a bit and making minor revisions, forging ahead. Well, I did it. I finished the final chapter, Chapter 30. I tried to avoid finishing it, to be honest. I have what the great James Lee Burke calls "corrosive self-doubt," which is an affliction all writers suffer.  I dawdled. I dallied. I thought of other things I could do besides finish that last, short, chapter. I played "monster" with my dog, chasing her around the cottage, a game she loves. I got on Facebook for a while. I read up on the Hawkeyes, the Red Sox, political scandals. I went back to my computer.   I finished, immediately followed by a sense of satisfaction, a sense of imminent doom, a bit of sadness that it was over. But I finished. Next step? Well, I mean to put it away until May, and then I'll go full bore making revisions, some major, most minor. I have to get all the names straight, the timelines accurate, the details nailed down, maybe more research to review, the loose ends tied up. But I love that part of being a writer as well.   Next step after that? Off to my publisher and start to write again.   Being a writer is an affliction, but it is a delightful one, especially when a work is finished. And I did that. Now I can spend my valuable time watching March Madness. Of course, there's some writing I need to do.

The beat goes on.

Left field for the Sox or industrial gaskets?

industrial gasket I was driving around the other day, not lost yet, and saw a business that announced "Industrial Gaskets" and I wondered, where did that idea come from? I mean, when asked as a child, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" imagine this, squeaky little voice and earnest facial expression: "I want to have an Industrial Gasket store!"

It set me to wondering what happens to lead people into different capacities as adults; I mean, do children want to grow up to be podiatrists, mattress salespeople, septic tank specialists?

I wanted to play professional baseball. For the Red Sox. Left field. I gave it up when, at the age of 15, I realized I couldn't see well enough to distinguish between the rotation of a curve ball and the spin of a fast ball. Two pitches that didn't break on two consecutive at-bats resulted in two beanings that drove the point home. But at least I got to first base, although they had to point me in the direction. Explains a lot, I think.

Then I wanted to be a writer, but why? Maybe it was the positive attention from my friends for writing grisly, warped-humor poems in high school. More likely, it was a creative writing teacher when I was a senior who encouraged me, and still does. Maybe it was the fun of making things up that people liked.

So that's what I am now - a writer. Pretty happy about that. I would've made a lousy industrial gasket guy.

Be Better, Boston!

fenway As I write this, my team, the last-place (last year) Boston Red Sox are beating The Forces of Evil in the very pit of Hell. That means the Red Sox are whipping the Yankees in the new Yankee Stadium. This bodes well for the season, and the possibility of a 162-0 record still exists.

Opening Day, Opening Day, are there better words in the English lexicon? All things are possible, the sights and sounds of smells of baseball have returned, and all is well, at least for the moment.

My most memorable Opening Day was 1971, when using a ticket I ordered when I was still living in Israel, I got to see the Red Sox and Yankees in Fenway Park. With snow flurries most of the time. With the great Yaz making a sliding catch in left field, one leg in front of him to keep him from sliding into the wall down the left field line.

I have been a Red Sox fan for 57 years and counting, and that includes mostly bad seasons. Never a front-runner, it was a delight to win the World Series in '04, ending 86 years of futility.

A good friend of mine is a serious, committed Cubs fan. It's been over a century, 113 years, since they've won a World Series so, after Boston, I'm pulling for Chicago. A dream World Series would be Boston and the Cubs. Right now, it is possible.

Play Ball!

Real Romantic

two_towers_024 Valentine's Day is looming and so I'm going to come right out and say it: I am a romantic. The Oxford English Dictionary's second defintion of romantic is, "of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality. . . " Further, the OED defines "idealized" as "regard or represent as perfect or better than reality."

My idealized view of reality has many faces. For example, I believe certain scenes in movies are real. The battle scenes in The Lord of the Rings, for example, are real and make my heart swell every time I see them. They make me want to participate. I believe, and I don't want any additional footage trying to convince me that special effects, camera angles, and choreography were involved. I DON'T WANNA HEAR IT!

Another face of my romanticism works for me in literature. For example, I believe every word of The Life of Pi. I believe the story. I believe Richard Parker was a real tiger and that he and Pi made it to Mexico and Richard Parker strolled off into the jungle and found a girl tiger and they had cubs and a nice habitat and pizza delivery. So don't tell me Richard Parker was a symbol for something else. He was a tiger.

Also, I tend to be a romantic when it comes to sports. I believe my Iowa Hawkeyes will win next year's BCS championship and this year's Final Four. And the Red Sox will win the next World Series.

Finally, I must say that my romantic view of my long-suffering wife is based on facts that interface perfectly with "an idealized view of reality" and "perfect or better than in reality." You can look it up.