Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gawking Rubes

And just a small selection of what they gawked at.

First, the obvious. I must have passed this 50 years ago, when I was a wee immigrant child on the deck of a ship heading towards Hoboken, but I was too entranced by the neon lights along the shore to notice the heavy, symbolic stuff. That had to wait for sober late middle age.

Meanwhile, back in the city. Here's a nice contrast between grand old showpiece and new glass and steel.

Leonore was intrigued by the Chrysler building and took oodles of photos of it.

Gnarly, man! This is a tree at Wave Hill, an estate on the banks of the Hudson River. Mark Twain and Toscanini both lived there. Handsome old buildings and lovely gardens, of both of which our photos aren't as good as I had hoped. You can look across the Hudson at the Palisades on the New Jersey side. Naturally, as a Coloradan, my main reaction was, "Good God! Lookit all the water!"

This is the famous Wall Street bull, posed as you don't normally see him. In real life, he isn't sitting there all alone. Tourists are crawling all over him. Also, he's not on Wall Street, but rather on Broadway, a couple of blocks south of Wall Street.

Rather undignified for the poor chap, don't you think? But he looks like he's about to get his revenge via his hind end.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Hell of a Town

We stayed in the Bronx, which of course is up, and went on a harbor tour that started in the vicinity of the Battery (down), and we walked around a fair part of Manhattan (in between).

We were in NYC for four days, getting back home last night. Unfortunately for us, the original forecast of cool weather was wrong. It was hot and humid (by our Denver standards, anyway) all the time. Nonetheless, we did lots of touristy things and walked great distances and ate much food. The food part seems to be a constant in our trips to other cities, which is probably why our bathroom scale covers its ears when we get back, so that it won't have to hear the cries of, "Oh, no!" and "However did that happen?"

We stayed with Lisa, a college friend of Leonore's whom she hadn't seen since Lisa visited us in Denver 30 years ago, and Lisa's husband, Andrew, whom neither of had met before. Anna Lee, another college friend of both of theirs, whom Leonore hadn't seen in almost 40 years, was able to come down for a day from Connecticut. I met Lisa at Indiana U. when Leonore and I were dating, but I didn't know Anna Lee in those days.

I've been to New York before, but only as a child, both coming to this country and leaving it, and my memories from then are faint and vague and childlike. This time, I was a sober adult. Well, except for when I was a gawking tourist, staring at all the big buildings and getting in the way of the rushing Manhattanites. Managed not to get run over. I learned quickly that traffic lights, including Walk signals, are just quaint things that New Yorkers ignore. I guess you learn that quickly or you go home to flyover country in the airplane's cargo hold.

We took absurdly many pictures, as we always do. I haven't looked at any of them on the computer yet, so I don't know if there are some good ones among them. If there are, I might post one or two here. Watch this space!


On second thought, don't watch this space. I'll put a few photos in a new post. We'll see if Blogger objects to my uploading a fair number of bytes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

LAA - League of Arthritic Authors

We here at LAA have a few thoughts we'd like to share with you. But first, we have a question for you:

    Eh? What was that, sonny? Speak up, God damn it! You young people today, you all mumble. And your music -- !

Okay, so I've been thinking about age a lot lately. Rather, I've been thinking about being old. More specifically, I've been fretting about being an author and not being young. Most specifically, I've been hyperventilating about being a non-famous, non-established published author who is not young.

Why? Because I have the impression, or perhaps it's really an irrational fear, that what I said about myself above will cause my next novel to be dismissed by agents and/or editors simply because I'm a non-famous, non-established published author who is not young.

Some months ago, I asked Miss Snark about this. My question was never answered, but another, very similar one was. (She said she had been asked this before, meaning that at least three of us are hyperventilating about this matter.) Her answer was that an agent you query of course won't know your age and, more important, won't care about it. Don't worry about it, she said. She ended with her usual, and very good, advice: Write well. Just concentrate on that.

However, over the years, I've heard of authors being dropped by their publishers because of their age. I've also heard of second/third/etc. novels not being picked up, despite a good sales record for the published books, because of the author's age. I just hope this doesn't apply to genre writers. We don't have to look young and beautiful. How often do you see one of us on a TV talk show? (And it's a good thing you don't....)

I can't quite help the fretting, but while fretting I'll also write well. (I'd say "Continue to write well, as I always do," but that sounds awfully conceited.) (Oh, heck. Why pretend! When it comes to my writing, I am conceited.) I'll also keep fretting.

You hear that, sonny? Eh? What? Speak up!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Living in the Next Book

(But first a beer digression. I've been buying Kokanee, a really pleasant, mild lager from British Columbia, almost a Koelsch. Had one tonight and felt so happy that I then had a Pilsner Urquell, which I don't usually buy, but I did last weekend. This one had gone skunky. Blech. Unsettled my stomach and left a nasty taste in my mouth. [I had to drink most of it, just to be sure, you see.] I was soooo tempted to, um, cleanse my palate with a third beer, but I managed not to. I'm almost proud of myself. Fortunately, I had made myself a pot of Serious Tea, and that seems to be helping.)

As I work my way toward finishing Time and the Soldier, I'm daydreaming increasingly about plot and character details of a planned forthcoming novel. It's not in fact going to be the next one I work on, but that sounded better as the post title.

Trollope talked about this in his autobiography. I downloaded a text version of his autobiography and tried to find that in there but couldn't, and I hope I'm remembering this correctly from when I read the book (in, gasp!, printed form) many years ago.

As I remember, Trollope said that he would start the next book right after finishing the preceding one. Perhaps he even said that it would be the very next day. He said it wasn't hard to do that because he had been living with (I think that was the phrase) the characters in the next book while finishing the preceding one, and so he already knew them well. That struck me as wonderful when I read it.

Years, or decades, ago, I used to daydream about books I planned to write, but it wasn't realistic. I was really daydreaming about having written them and being a success as a result. Nowadays, it seems more concrete. I'm not imagining the future book as a finished product. Rather, I'm thinking about the details that will go into it. Doing that keeps me excited about that future book, even while I'm immersed deeply in the current one, and it makes the future book seem more real and makes me feel that, like Trollope, I'll be ready to dive right into it when the time comes.

Or so I hope.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


This is David's Definitions for the July issue of Community News.


This is commonly misused to mean "really, really big." "He was amazed by the enormity of the mountains." That is incorrect. Enormity does come from the same Latin root as enormous, but the two words drifted apart long ago. Enormity came to mean something extraordinarily evil or immoral or shocking. So you can speak of the enormity of a crime (meaning its awfulness, not its magnitude). Or you could refer to a major social transgression, such as behaving very badly at a very formal event, as a social enormity, although that meaning is somewhat old fashioned. If you simply want to say that something is really, really big, then talk about its hugeness or its immensity or its enormousness, but not its enormity.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Mysterious Minneapolis

As I said, we're back in Denver.

On Thursday of last week, we drove to Kansas City, where we stayed with one of Leonore's sisters (of whom no fewer than 52 live in Kansas City; the remaining 35 live elsewhere). (No, none of them is from KC originally. They all just ended up there.) A fine time was had by all, and we ate vast quantities of food.

On Saturday, we drove up to Minneapolis. It's a very attractive city and the freeway system sucks. I got lost numerous times during our stay there. Fortunately, thanks to the Norwegian/Swedish/other Scandinavian influence, even when you are lost and are driving around wondering why the street layout doesn't resemble the street map, you get many opportunities to remark on how clean the streets are. "Gosh, darling, look how clean these streets are!" "They certainly are, sweetheart, and, by the way, where the fuck are we?"

But we did like it. And we also liked the many restaurants we went to with Daniel and Becca, his fianceeeee (how many es in that word?). The food was excellent, and we ate vast quantities of it. The good news is that I think we each gained less than 50 lbs. on the trip.

Monday was the graduation ceremony. Unfortunately, it was also a hot, muggy day (the only one of our visit, though), which made things unpleasant, especially for Daniel, who was wearing a cap and gown. (For some details about the ceremony, see Daniel's Live Journal.)

Here's the freshly minted Master of Biostatistics:

On our last full day in Minneapolis, we spent a delightful time walking around Lake Calhoun, part of a string of beautiful lakes inside the city. 10,000 lakes, indeed!

We drove back on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Instead of going back through Kansas City, we took a right turn at Des Moines (which we managed to hit at rush hour, but fortunately it's a fairly wimpy rush hour) and then on through Nebraska. It's not widely known that Nebraska is 5,300 miles in diameter. Fortunately, the speed limit on the interstates there is 75 mph, which does help. We stopped for the night at Lincoln, Nebraska, and if you find yourself in that area and needing a place to stop, I highly, highly recommend the Countryside Suites motel (not the chain with a similar name; this one's independent) at exit 403 on Interstate 80.

Nebraska is greener and prettier than I remembered. Northeast Colorado is just as dreary as I remembered.

The route made for two days with a reasonable amount of driving in each. We got home last night (Thursday) at a reasonable hour. A notification that I had received a MacArthur grant was not waiting for me. This keeps happening, and I'm getting annoyed and impatient.

But it was not all fun and games and vast quantities of food! No, forsooth! I had my laptop with me, and I wrote. Yes, I did. I'm not making this up. I really did write.

I'm in the editing/whipping-the-monster-into-shape phase with the book, now. I have a file full of notes regarding plot problems, so I'm scrolling through the text, wondering where I can stick a particular item in without it looking as though it was stuck in after the fact. I have these notes stored in the notes file in the form of bullet points. For example:

  • Farmhouse nice touch, but how and why is it there? You can't just have it in place because it's cool, dummy. Make something up to justify it!
  • So when and how did Delia figure out her relationship to the mysterious young blonde woman? Damn.
  • How to handle Pedro? When and how does he discover that he's actually the heir to the family fortune but was sent off while still an infant to live with a peasant family in Brownsville? How will this discovery affect his plans to destroy the family mansion on the secret island off the coast of Florida? What about his rivalry with Rock, and his passionate desire for Blaze (the woman, not the horse)?
Oops. Ignore that third bullet point. None of that's in the book. (Hmm. Maybe it should be.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back Home Again

Just got back from Minneapolis. We were away for a week. Drove. Having a beer. Feeling much better. Good tea is brewing. Some details to come.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Portrait of the Artist as an Old Dog

Recently, in an online discussion place, someone insisted that young male actors with muscles (the one under discussion was Tom Welling, who plays Clark Kent in Smallville) must be using steroids. I insisted otherwise. You can read the thread here . At least, I hope that works.

To try to finally win the argument, I decided to add a picture of myself. I posted:

I was a fat and completely inactive child and teenager. When I went away to college, I lost the fat, but I didn't become all that active. I had admired bodybuilders and fiddled very slightly with very light dumbbells occasionally as a teenager and did it a bit more when in college, but I didn't really get into it until I was almost 40. I'm now 63, so I've been lifting weights -- not often enough, not regularly enough, without enough self-discipline (sounds like my writing career!) -- for just about 25 years.

The attached picture shows the results. Please ignore the busy background and the embarrassed smile.

The point of this picture is that I've never used steroids and I started relatively late. I do (as far as I can tell) have good genes going for me. So a healthy young man, starting lifting in his teens or early twenties, with good genes, can expect much better results much more rapidly. There's no reason at all to assume use of

Here's the picture: