Archive for December, 2011

Took the week off from work, and I’m using that time to focus on my next story, with new characters. I “retired” Wade Stuart (but you can, of course, still read about him in A Simple Murder here), and have been working on the closest thing to “Southern fiction” I’ve ever written. And it’s taken a long time to get here.

A few years ago, I took a course at the local community college that ended up having a huge effect on my approach to writing. My instructor, Robert Bausch, is a gifted teacher and storyteller. So much so that I took the course several times, just so I could continue to study under Bob’s eye. The structure of the class was pretty standard — the students write (fiction and/or poetry), which is then critiqued by others (aloud). It can be brutal, but if you have a thick skin and really want to learn, it can also be a process that really helps you hone the craft of writing.

Bob talked a lot about writing about characters, as opposed to plot. At first, I didn’t gewt it — of course you write about characters. But you have to have a plot, right? You have to come up with a plot for your characters to operate within. But Bob taught a different style — create the character first, then let him/her tell you the story. Whoa. That was different. To me, anyway. So, I started trying to do that. And I found that writing to a plot, which I had done for years, makes the writer a puppet master of sorts — I devised the story and moved the characters around in it to achieve the results. So, the story itself suffered, and the characters suddenly didn’t seem as lifelike as I thought. Because I wasn’t really letting them tell their stories.

Hmmm…

So, I set out to create a character and came up with a small boy, Sam, who was going fishing with his father on a summer day in Mississippi.

Eventually, I had a short story, which the class critiqued. It was a lukewarm reception, which wasn’t that unusual — and better than some of the more incisive critiques the class handed out. So, I kept “pushing it around,” as Bob would say. A few months later, I submitted it to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference for the upcoming session in Vermont. To my surprise, it was accepted.

BLWC ran on a similar format as Bob’s class. There’s a whole other story there, but the upshot is that the story fared pretty well, and I got some priceless criticism from my instructor, Tom Franklin (who just happened to be the writer-in-residence at Ole Miss at the the time).

When I returned to Virginia, I discussed the conference with Bob and he arranged for me to meet with a colleague of his, a publishing vet who worked in New York. He read the story and told me that if it were a novel, he’d read it.

I was a little surprised at that — it was a short story, and I really didn’t think I had much more than that. Certainly not a novel. But I pushed it around some more. I already had a couple of characters: Sam, and his father, Winston. So, I began to wonder what happened to Sam when he grew up.

From there, came the story that I’m working on now, one with a whole bunch of characters. And the difference? Writing to characters is a lot like hearing the same story from several different people — they all saw or experienced the same thing, but each saw it a little differently. It’s like being in a room with half a dozen people, all trying to give you their version of what happened. Put them all together, and you have one story. That story, for the moment, is titled, “Deep Blood.” Look for more about it here in the coming weeks.

Of course, the trick is knowing when the story is done. I’m still working on that.

Don’t forget to visit the A Simple Murder page on Facebook.

For those of you who have read A Simple Murder (you know who you are), but have never been to Hawaii, I’ve put together the below pictorial guide, featuring some of the landmarks in the story.

For those of you who haven’t read the book (you know who you are), here’s what you’re missing.

The Hawaiian island of Oahu, which means “the gathering place.” Most of the story takes place on the Windward Side of the island, in Kailua and Kaneohe (the part that juts out just to the left of “Southeast Oahu”). The Windward Side is, essentially that area on the map at left from Turtle Bay at the top to Southeast Oahu in the lower right corner. The Kaneohe-Kailua area is also home to the Marine Corps Air Station, situated between the two towns on a peninsula with an extinct volcano at one end. The Windward Side is remarkably different from the Leeward Side, the latter being far more commercialized and home to most of the island’s tourist attractions, including Waikiki Beach.

Ft. Hase Beach, also on the Windward side of Oahu, where the story opens. It’s one of several beaches on the Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe. The view here is toward the extinct volcano on the Marine base, looking away from the town of Kailua. This is one of the few beaches on the island that offers little in the way of surf or diving, and it’s a secluded spot easy to overlook from the road going on and off the base.

 

 

The Shack (in case you didn’t notice that huge sign), home of the best burgers on the island, located in Kailua. One of Wade Stuart’s favorite hangouts. The house specialty is a massive burger with either Portuguese or “Louisiana hot link” sausage with curly fries that are a must-have. Inside, it’s mostly a sports bar and arcade, but family friendly.

 

 

Buzz’s Steakhouse, also in Kailua. Situated right on the beach, and protected by shade and cool breezes, with an awesome lanai for outdoor dining, Buzz’s is a great place to enjoy a quiet meal. Wade and Molly McDonough have supper here upon her arrival in Hawaii.

 

 

Speaking of Molly, she arrives at Honolulu International Airport, one of the neatest airports in the world. It’s almost entirely open-air, and the constant trade winds keep the whole place cool and comfortable. Outside, there are dozens of lei stands, so you can grab fresh flowers coming or going (and don’t forget). The bottom image is the Reef Runway, an artificial reef affixed onto the island of Oahu to accommodate large jets. Its position makes for some pretty interesting approaches, especially after hours of flying over open ocean, only to have a strip of asphalt suddenly appear under your plane. It gives you the sense that you’re about to do a belly-flop into the Pacific, right up until you look out the window and see the mountains of Oahu (if you’re on that side of the plane, of course).

 

Downtown Kailua, where Wade Stuart lives and works. Kailua is adjacent to the Marine base on the Windward Side, part local and part haole, and totally relaxed. It’s commonly referred to, partly in jest (partly not), as Haole Town because of the large number of non-Hawaiians that live there. But it definitely has a small-town feel to it; but then again, it is small.

 

 

The Mahi, a sunken Navy cable ship. The ship was sunk years ago off the western side of Oahu to build an artificial reef for marine life, and has become a very popular dive site. It sits in about 100 feet of water. It was sunk with the bow facing away from the the island, but a hurricane blew in and turned the entire ship around so that it now faces the island. Stuart accepts an invitation from Pops Kekona to go for a dive on the vessel.

 

Kahuku, the very small town up the road from Kaneohe on the Windward Side, nestled into the mountains. The general area where Pops lives and where he and Wade Stuart meet for the first time. Kahuku is very “local,” meaning mostly Hawaiian. And they play some pretty good high school football in Kahuku.

 

 

The USS Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class Navy cruiser that pulls into Pearl Harbor for a planned port call after a stormy transit from the Mainland. The skipper is Capt. Thomas Lindsay, USN. The storm prevented the ship from conducting its scheduled exercises and weapons testing. Lindsay decided to forgo the exercises and head to port.

 

 

Barber’s Point. The beach here formerly belonged to the Naval Air Station at Barber’s Point and was a great beach for sunbathing and picnics; today it’s a spot for one of the more popular tourist luaus (there are several commercial outfits that put on luaus on Oahu’s Leeward Side). As a result, much of the former base’s land is empty and the beach is far more remote than in the Navy days. It’s also located fairly close to the Honolulu International Airport.

 

Waikiki Beach, the spot most familiar to tourists. You can’t give a tour of Oahu without a picture of Waikiki, so here it is. The busiest spot on the island (except for maybe Hanauma Bay), and famed for its sun and surf (not the thundering waves of the North Shore, though) and Duke Kahanamoku. Where most tourists spend their entire Hawaiian vacation.

 

 


The beach aboard the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe, sometimes referred to as “Officers’ Beach.” It’s flat as a tabletop in the summer, but the winter season brings fairly big waves. It’s one of two surfable beaches on the base and within walking distance from base housing. The view, though, is spectacular all year long. Stuart surfs here regularly, and has an interesting meeting here with the base spokesman.

 

The aforementioned Pearl Harbor, today the final resting place of the USS Arizona and the current home of the USS Missouri — the two ships that represent the beginning and the end of World War II for the United States and still a major Navy base. It also sits adjacent to Hickam Air Force Base, both of which were attacked in 1941. The slips off the right of the photo are where many ships pull into port.

This concludes the tour. Find out what really happens in A Simple Murder by getting your copy, in paperback or Kindle format, here.

 

Someone commented on a recent post (don’t worry, he’s a friend, so he’s allowed), regarding my Virginia place of residence, that northern Virginia (which he defined as north of the Rappahannock) is actually “occupied territory.” He may have a point. Because every holiday season, I hear more and more people talk about eating “turkey and stuffing.”

Folks, “stuffing” is what you find you find in your couch cushions (we don’t call them sofas, either). Or it’s what’s in that deer head hanging on your living room wall.

Come holiday time (Thanksgiving and Christmas), you enjoy turkey and dressing. Now, I know some food nazi out there is going to cite Rachel Ray and inform me that dressing is a dish and stuffing is a filling.

Yeah, whatever. “Stuffing” is also a verb.

Anyway, we eat dressing, which really is fancy cornbread, when you get right down to it. And you have to make cornbread, you can’t walk into Winn-Dixie and buy a loaf of it (I know of a woman who actually did that. The staff immediately pegged her as someone from Pittsburgh).

We also eat sweet potatoes (not yams — that doesn’t even sound tasty) and pecan pie. And it’s “puh-cahn,” not “PEE-can.” And, yes, this food is usually consumed at momonyms.

Like language, food is one of those things that distinguishes us – what we eat, how we eat it and what we call it.

Take grits. Personally, I don’t trust a restaurant that doesn’t have grits on the breakfast menu. And I’m liable to get into trouble here even with some of my Southern brethren, but grits are made to be eaten with butter, salt and pepper. Not sugar. No way, no how. Shrimp and grits is fine (and quite good), but save the sugar for oatmeal.

We’re also fond of things we can shoot, grow and catch, like deer, garden vegetables and catfish. The latter used to be almost exclusively a Southern food, but in the 1980s (so the story goes), then-President Reagan tried catfish at a White House dinner (provided by a Mississippi delegation trying to get a little funding from the fedrul gubmint for the nascent catfish industry). He enjoyed it enough to throw some money to catfish farmers, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, you can’t catch, or farm, deer. You have to go get them. Which involves a bow or a firearm (or both), freezing for hours at a time in a deer stand and the thrill of the hunt when that buck steps into your crosshairs. And one of the best things to hear around the kitchen this time of year is, “I got a freezer full of meat.”

And don’t even get me started on okra.

Visit the Facebook page for A Simple Murder — and get your copy today.

Ran across this interesting piece today from FutureBook.net, a “digital blog from Europe.” Full disclosure: the blog is associated with with a book seller. The post recapped the year that was 2011 with some interesting stats about digital publishing. You can read the whole piece here (right before you go over to Amazon to buy your Kindle copy of A Simple Murder), but here are the highlights:

  • Ebook sales in  the United States accounted for 23.5 percent of all trade book sales in January.
  • In February, Barnes & Noble announced selling twice as many e-books as paper books.
  • The first digital publishing awards took place in London in March, followed shortly after by the launch of the Apple iPad2.
  • By May, Amazon announced selling more Kindle books than paperbacks and hard covers combined. Also in May, Barnes & Noble launched the Nook Touch (to compete with Amazon’s Kindle). Random’s sales of e-books hit 2 million the same month.
  • In June, Penguin announced digital sales made up 14 percent of its overall business, and Google launched its first e-reader.
  • In August, Barnes & Noble (boldly) predicted more than  $1 billion in sales from Nook business. Also, Amazon launched HTML5 reader web app to bypass Apple’s restrictions on its platforms.
  • In September, Google’s ebookstore launched in Australia, and Amazon launched the Tablet Fire and three new Kindle models.
  • In October, the Wall Street Journal published its first ebook bestseller list.
  • In November, Google ebooks launched in Canada; Amazon launched its Kindle lending library in the United States — Penguin halted library e-lending.

So, hurry up already. And when you get your spanking new e-reader, get a copy of A Simple Murder here.

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Bob Batch. But years ago, I found myself in a comedy club in D.C., sitting in the back of the room waiting for “this guy you gotta see” to come on. This sentiment was uttered by my college roommate, who had seen the comedian before and swore he was “funniest thing you ever saw.”

Well, not quite, but Bob Batch had a most original routine, one that stuck with me for a long time. Batch is a Kentucky native, so he knows a thing or two about the redneck. And any man who takes the stage to John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” is my kind of guy.

Batch’s shtick was dialect, specifically, how we Southerners talk. For those of you of a Northern (or overseas) persuasion, this could be considered your primer for understanding what the hell we mean. Of course, part of the reward for speaking Southern is that y’all can’t understand us. But, as the late great Lewis Grizzard said, “God talks like we do.”

Batch had a seemingly endless supply of flash cards with which he schooled the audience (as you can see in the clip here — full disclosure: the crowd doesn’t seem to get the jokes). Two of my favorites were “SMATTERCHEW” and “MOMONYMS,” which, to any Southerner, are self-explanatory. But for the rest of you, I’ll explain by paraphrasing Batch.

“Smatterchew” is what you’d say to someone who didn’t look well — someone who “might be coming down with something.” Being concerned, you’d ask “Smatterchew?”

“Momonyms” is where you go for Thanksgiving — to see your mother and her kin. “We’re going to Momonyms for supper.”

See? Self-explanatory.

Besides the unique inflections that come from the accent, there are countless other ways our language sets us apart from the other, less fortunate, states. If you don’t believe me, watch Sling Blade (“How much yohnt fer em?”). The aforementioned Lewis Grizzard was an astute observer of Southern dialect and would say things like “we were outside when there come up a bad cloud.” Or he’d tell a story about the time his boyhood friend and great American Wayman C. Wannamaker, Jr., had to “set up with the dead.” And just last week, I familiarized my Virginia-raised son with the concept of “Tuesday week.”

It works like this: Let’s say it’s Thursday, and you have to go to the dentist on the Tuesday after the upcoming Tuesday. Now, you could say “next Tuesday,” as opposed to “this Tuesday,” but of course that would be confusing, even if it’s known that “this Tuesday” is actually the next Tuesday (see what I mean?). Or you could say, a week from Tuesday. But then you have to explain if it’s a week from THIS Tuesday or NEXT Tuesday.  But “Tuesday week” means just that — not the Tuesday that comes after this weekend, the one after that. Makes perfect sense.

Just like the difference between “supper” and “dinner.”  There are three meals in the day — why do we need four words to describe them? In the evening, you eat supper. You eat dinner in the middle of the day. Using the same word to describe one meal is just a confusing waste of words.

While we’re on the subject, I’ve been living in Virginia — which claims to be part of “The South” — for 14 years, and I still have to specify — unnecessarily — that I want sweet iced tea. Is there any other kind to have with supper? I don’t know why beverages are so tricky — you got your soda, cola, pop. To us, it’s a coke. And when we ask for a coke, the nice waitress will ask us “what kind?,” and we’ll say something like, “Sprite,” or “Co-cola.” And ask her, “How much yohnt ferit?”

So that’s tonight language lesson. Now ahmoan set down with some tea and hope there don’t come up a bad cloud while I watch some football.

 

Not real sure how I feel about this recent USA Today piece on e-books. I’m glad that the world of e-publishing is getting some publicity (with two titles of my own in Kindle format, of course); at the same time I wonder if it’s paints a picture that’s a little too rosy.

True, the e-book market is booming. Amazon is probably the best, and best-known, business model, and it’s a good one. Authors can accomplish all the technical details of publishing from their laptop, including setting up pricing and royalties, cover design., etc. The process itself is pretty simple, too, if a little time-consuming. For me, working off a Mac, I had to do a couple of extra steps when it came to formatting, and of course there were the hours spent just familiarizing myself with each step.

But, once the process is complete, the book is available within 48 hours. And Amazon makes it very easy to find, buy and download a title. You can even sample a book if you like by downloading the first chapter. In some cases, customers can “borrow” a book for free. This is great news for writers trying to build a readership and who aren’t necessarily concerned with becoming the next John Grisham and sell millions of books.

Sounds pretty easy, and it is, but — and this is what isn’t really covered by the USA Today piece — it’s only the first step. Once the book is out there, it’s up to the author to market it. And sell it. That’s the hard part. And without sells, you aren’t going to be one of the writers highlighted in the USA Today piece — wealthy. Most e-book authors aren’t. And I haven’t seen any evidence that success in the e-book market translates into success in the NYC trade paper market.

Another huge advantage to the traditional method of publishing — i.e., securing an agent who sells the book to a publisher — is the vetting process a manuscript undergoes between the time the writer finishes it and you see it in a store. It’s read by an agent, then  editors, then proofers, and on up the line until it’s put on the presses. That very key step is, by and large, missing in the self-publishing market today. I’m lucky in that as a (former) journalist, I tend to pay a lot more attention to the editing side, and I have friends, also journalists, who can and do read some of my writing for both content and proofing purposes.

So, why did I decide to go the e-book route? Well, for one thing, it’s more than a fad. Electronic publishing is exploding now, and I think that will continue. With tablet technology and the seemingly unending app market, reading electronically is not only becoming more acceptable, it’s getting easier. For those traditionalists who can’t get past the “look and feel of a real book,” I understand that (you should see the number of books in my house and at my bedside. But the Kindle and similar platforms have made electronic books almost as convenient and endearing as “real” books. The competition in the tablet market is only going to make that experience even better in the future. Another bonus — downloading a book to your tablet/Kindle/reader is nearly instantaneous. No waiting 3-5 business days for the mail to deliver.

To me, it was worth taking the plunge.

So, support your local writer. Get a copy of A Simple Murder today.

16 December 2011: Damn Yankees

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is probably going to generate some hate amongst my non-Southern acquaintances, but I’ve always been a little curious about the word “Yankee.” Not the New York Yankees (no, that’s a different kind of hate), just the word itself. I’ve been overseas enough to have been called a “Yank” numerous times, and found it a little offensive — and not just because I’m from Mississippi. It’s the way the word is used, the tone. Oh, and it’s usually proceeded by an adjective that begins with the letter “F.” That might have something to do with it.

But the word to me has always referred to someone “from up north.” As in, north of Carolina. Of course, it could generally be applied to anyone from outside the South, which in my Deep South case meant anyone not from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas. Ok, we’ll take Arkansas, too. Florida? Hell, there’s more Yankees in Florida now than before the Civil War. Louisiana? Loads of Cajuns, their own special breed. Texas? Hell, no. Texas is Texas. I know Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy and blah blah blah, but you ever hear them people talk? (Full disclosure: I now live in Virginia).

And of course when you grow up in The Real Deep South, “yankees” is always preceded by the word “damn.” The old joke, “I was 16 years old before I realized ‘damn yankees’ was two words,” rings true in my case. I always thought it should be the New York DamnYankees (still do, for that matter, but that’s another story).

Anyway, I’ve always wondered where the word comes from. I know it’s been around forever. I even remember an old TV show from my childhood days called “The Young Rebels.” The show was about a group of young people who were part of the “Patriot Movement” during the Revolutionary War era. Of course, these rebels were referred to by the British characters as Yankees or Yanks. Talk about confusing to a kid in the South who grew up knowing the words “Rebels” and “Yankees.” I can remember wondering, “What exactly is a Yankee anyway?” I think I even commented to my mom, while watching an episode, “Why are these guys called ‘rebels’? They’re a bunch of Yankees!”

Thanks to the magic of the interwebs, we don’t have to wonder anymore. Seems the word has Dutch roots, depending on what source you believe. The Dutch names Jan and Kees were common in the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey areas during Colonial times, and the two sometimes were combined into a single name, Jan-Kees.  Since Jan is pronuounced Yahn, it makes sense. I’m sure that one of those Jan Kees was referred to as “that damn Jan Kees.”

And don’t forget to get your Christmas shopping done — which should include giving a copy of A Simple Murder to the reader in your family. This reader loved it: “I loved Enemy Within, the author’s previous book. This one is part two of the first one. Now if they could only make TV shows and movies with as compelling of a story line! Outstanding!” Get your own copy here.

I like the Christmas season as much as anybody, but this has to be the worst time of the year. To wit:

1. It’s still two months until pitchers and catchers report. Two months. That means two months of blabbering about Albert Pujols’ and his new team.

2. College football season is over. OK, for an Ole Miss grad, my season’s been over since, oh, September, but the entire college football season is done. Until bowl season starts up, and we get to watch 74 bowl games, 71 of which feature mediocre teams nobody’s ever heard of playing other mediocre teams nobody’s ever heard of. And, if there’s any justice at all in the world, Wake Forest will win its game.

3. And speaking of football, what happened to the Monday Night Football schedule?? Tonight’s yawner is Seattle vs. St. Louis. Seriously? Who dreams up these match-ups? I think Pittsburgh should play every Monday night. And they should play the Steelers. Every. Monday. Night.

4. Sons of Anarchy aired its finale last week. I don’t care what anybody says, it’s the best show of TV. I gave up on The Walking Dead, so all I’m left with is American Horror Story until Justified comes back on.

5. Justified doesn’t start for another three weeks.

6. It’s 34 degrees outside.

7. Those women on the Best Buy commercials are really pissing me off with their anti-Santa cattiness. Especially this one.

 

Finally, today’s shameless plug: A Simple Murder is available for Kindle here or in paperback here. Kindle Prime members can borrow it for free. Now that’s a deal that even Best Buy can’t beat.

Today has been a day of “found fun,” which is perfect since it’s the end of an uber busy week for me.

The first was news of Batman (a.k.a. Superhero Badass No .1). Director Christopher Nolan has announced the villain in the latest “Batman” movie (supposedly Nolan’s last). British actor Tom Hardy will step into the shoes of … Bane.

Who the hell is Bane, you ask? I admit, I had to ask, too — and I’m a huge Batman fan. Bane is pretty obscure, even for me. He’s the guy that broke Batman’s back during the “Knightfall” story arc of the 1990s — long after I’d stopped reading the comics. No matter,  I’ll be a butt in the seats when the movie comes out. I never miss a Batman movie.

I wish I still had those comics — and I had tons of them: Batman, Superman, Spiderman. I can remember even before first grade going into Burnett’s Corner Store in Meridian, Miss., and plunking my dime down on the counter for the latest comic book. Cheaper than a movie (and, truth be told, a lot more violent at the time), it was the perfect form of boy entertainment. And Batman ruled supreme.

Sure, you got your Superman types, but Superman was just too … nice. I mean, Clark Kent was really a dweeb when you got right down to it. And probably a crappy journalist (more on that in a few minutes). Yeah, he was the Man of Steel, but he was more like a Boy Scout than a badass. And later, I read a lot of Spider-Man. He was always cool — the smartass webslinger with the hot girlfriend. Who wouldn’t want Spidey powers?

But Batman was complicated. Dark. He didn’t sit around pondering a lot, he just went out and kicked whoever’s ass needed kicking. Didn’t have any superpowers — other than the ability to kick your ass in a super fashion. Just him and his utility belt and it was go-time. He was a borderline head case himself — watched his parents die, and that fear of bats thing to conquer, had the Joker to deal with. Man had his demons.

Of course, I didn’t get most of this when I was 6. I just loved the stories and the KA-POW! and OOF! of the whole thing. Being that age when the TV show started didn’t help. I’d race home from school (where I’d spent the recess running around the playground with a towel tied around my neck because I was, you know, Batman) to watch every episode. Reading a few of the graphic novels when I was older gave me insight into a character that may have been a comic book hero, but he was no cartoon. And the movies have actually helped that, especially Nolan’s versions.

So, while I have to admit I’m not up on the exploits of this Bane character, I can’t wait for the next movie to come out.

Next is a hilarious (only because it’s true) post from the blog StuffJournalistsLike. There, I attributed the source, so I can’t be accused of stealing this checklist for being a “real” journalist:

“Here’s my checklist to see if you are truly a journalist.

  1. Written a 15-inch story in 30 minutes
  2. Corrected a loved one’s grammar in a greeting card
  3. Replaced one of the major food groups with coffee
  4. Own your own police scanner
  5. Eat in your car more often than you do at a table
  6. Gotten fired/laid off for no good reason
  7. Forgotten what it’s like to have the weekend off
  8. Can no longer read a newspaper without scanning for typos and errors
  9. Learned that being told to “fuck off “ and “go to hell” is part of the job
  10. Woke in a cold sweat thinking you forgot to change the date on A1
  11. Spend your down time coming up with the perfect lede
  12. Slept in your car and not because you were too drunk to drive home
  13. Found that fine line between harassment and persistence
  14. If you needed bail, the first person you would call would be your editor
  15. You analyze city council meetings the way sportscasters break down Monday night football
  16. You think it’s normal to work 16 hours a day for 8 hours pay
  17. Have conducted a phone interview while completely naked
  18. Can write an entire interview on a cocktail napkin
  19. Threatened to quit over an editorial decision
  20. You couldn’t imagine doing anything else”

Ok, I never owned a police scanner, but the rest is pretty close to nearly every journalist I’ve ever known (myself included). We’re a strange lot, but boring is not in our vocabulary.

Oh, and don’t forget: A Simple Murder is on sale at Amazon.

Before I get into tonight’s post, a word of support for those affected by the events at Virginia Tech today. They remain in my thoughts and prayers.

In a way, we knew it had to end this way: Albert Pujols, quite possibly the best baseball player in a lifetime, is no longer a Cardinal. Around my house, it’s a pretty sad day — my daughter is a die-hard (and that’s putting it lightly) Cardinals fan. As for me, I’m a Dodgers fan, but I grew up listening to the Cardinals on the radio (yes, kids, on the radio). They were THE team in the South back in those days — the Braves weren’t even worth listening to. So, I’ve always had a soft spot for them — even if Jack Clark did knock the Dodgers out of the NLCS with one swing of the bat in ’85.

And, we used to live about 5 minutes from the stadium of the Class A Potomac Cannons, a farm team for the Cards (now the Potomac Nationals). When we first moved to Virginia, I went to several games and remember seeing a Cannon with a BA of something like .893 who hit the ball startling distances. And the announcer could never get his name right: Albert Pujols. And of course, Memphis is the home of the Redbirds, the Cardinals’ AAA affiliate. So, yeah, I’m partial.

I won’t rehash the courting of Prince Albert, but he (presumably) turned down the Cubs and the Marlins and went the Angels’ offer. I don’t hate him for it — unlike many, Cards fans or not. That’s unfortunate — Pujols is not LeBron, and shouldn’t be treated as such.

In a way, it fits. The Angels are a class act, with a Series championship and a solid team. The Angels and the Cards have a relationship — remember all those Angels that went to the Cards back in the ’90s? My daughter and I used to refer to the “St. Louis Angels.” And Pujols was going to get a new manager regardless — Mike Scioscia is a pretty move on that count. It’s a sad day for St. Louis, no doubt, and it’s sad that in the end a business decision won out over an emotional one, but I think the fact that Pujols went “the other L.A. team” says something about him as a person that goes beyond the business decision.