Mr. Lawnge's remix of Queen's Flash Gordon Theme is playing on my Launch station as I start writing this. :-)
A busy week ahead as I'm taking two days off work to head up to SUNY-Oneonta for a feature on Wednesday night. Robb Thibault - Fargo, 1998 - runs the Student Union and invited me to open their slam season. Have a full 30-40 minutes so I'm looking forward to stretching my legs and doing some pieces I haven't done in awhile. Getting paid nicely, too, which is always a good thing!
Hung out with Phil West on Friday night, in town for some marketing shenanigans involving him dressed as a tomato that apparently looks more like an angry pumpkin. Pictures to come. Dinner at Holy Basil and drinks at a cool little dive bar on 7th Street that serves Magic Hat #9! It's funny the relationships I've maintained on the slam scene over the years, and those that have faded, for various reasons. Phil's not someone I'd have ever thought to be in touch with, this far removed from the height of my involvement in PSI. Once you move beyond the competition and fade into the background of the community at large, it takes more than being a fellow poet to connect. Had a good time talking about poetry and parenting and life in general. If I'd have known he was going to beat me in fantasy football this weekend (79-74), I'd have made him buy me a drink!
Speaking of football, the real thing, the Jets stunk it up again, scoring only 10 points even though Vinny had almost 400 yards passing, keeping alive the debate on whether it's Vinny's fault or offensive coordinator Paul Hackett's. Pennington saved Hackett's job last year but, if he can't adjust the gameplan for Vinny, this will be another lost season. That their running game has completely disappeared doesn't help things. I feel sorry for Herm Edwards, though I can't imagine his job is in any jeopardy at this point. You never know, though. Black coaches aren't usually given as much rope as white coaches are.
In other news, my research into the world of fantasy (writing, not sports) has led me to the delightful discovery of Jessica Rydill's Children of the Shaman. One of my favorite things in the world is to spend an hour or two in a bookstore in search of a writer I've never heard of, especially when I'm looking into a new genre. Matt Ruff's Fool on the Hill, Daniel Evan Weiss' The Roaches Have No King and Lawrence Block's When the Sacred Ginmill Closes were all random discoveries that still rank amongst my favorite books ever. (In Block's case, Ginmill was actually the second of his books I'd read but was much better than Eight Million Ways to Die which is the one I'd first stumbled upon.)
So far, a little more than halfway through it, Shaman is exactly what I was looking for: a strong fantasy novel, set in it's own world, grounded enough in reality to not be silly or derivative. Rydill has a strong sense of character development and the world she's created takes elements of our own reality and refashions them into an intriguing blend that both fascinates and provokes, exactly what I'm hoping to do with my own work.
Where she uses Judaism and old Europe as her foundation, I'm planning on using Taino myths and "New World" history for mine. The beauty of this is that it allows me to research Taino history for my own edification while providing fertile ground to create my own fantasy world. And for anyone that's wondering what happened to the comic books, it is less of a leap than one would think. The structure of most comic book stories - at least the ones I enjoy - are excellent models for concise storytelling, the poetry of fiction, if you will.
That's all I'll say for now. Don't want to jinx myself.
Finally, today's NY Times has an article about the surprising turn of events that has found Stephen King being awarded the National Book Awards annual medal for distinguished contribution to American letters! Harold Bloom is in rare form with the expected hateration. Kudos, Mr. King. Your work was an early and frequent inspiration for me - and millions of others, I'd willingly bet - and I thank you for it.
As I finish, Tito Puente's Take Five is playing. Today's going to be a good one.