It's been a week since my last post. I haven't been avoiding this place because of my failed Super Bowl prediction; I've just been busy. To those of you who stop by here on occasion looking for updates, I apologize; I'll try to do better. For now, I offer a mega post in which I attempt to catch y'all up to speed.
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As for the Super Bowl, I said that I was going to cheer for the Colts, because I wanted Peyton and Dungy to get their championship. Once the two teams took the field, however, I was all for the Bears. The heart, I suppose, wants what the heart wants.
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And speaking of my heart...I haven't been neglecting just my blog. I'm teaching a new prep this term--Intro to Lit--and the class is consuming me. I literally wake up thinking about it. In the end, I think the challenges I've faced this term have made and will make me a better teacher, but right now, I'm really missing writing. I'm not saying that teaching has prevented me from writing, just that teaching well has definitely taken the front seat or whatever the expression is, and teaching well this term is much harder than in terms past.
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On Intro to Lit: We just finished book number four: ZZ Packer's Drinking Coffee Elsewhere.

Man, can she write. I tend, as a reader, to favor story writers to story tellers, because, I suppose, I consider myself more of a story writer than a story teller. I think of Packer primarily as a story teller--as opposed to, say, Junot Diaz, whose book we finished last week--but she just does so many things so well. She truly awes me.

This week in Intro to Lit, we're starting a little unit on war literature.
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One of the things I do when I'm not writing much is buy books. And this past week I put in a massive order at Powell's. Well, not massive, but certainly decent-sized, especially considering how many new books I have sitting around the house that I have yet to touch.

Here're the books on their way to my house:

The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure by Jack Pendarvis

Dying Light: And Other Stories by Donald Hays

The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson

Unconventions: Attempting the Art of Craft and the Craft of Art
by Michael Martone

Before You She Was a Pit Bull by Elizabeth Ellen

The Brief History of the Dead
by Kevin Brockmeier
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I'll be teaching on Valentine's Day, so J.C. and I made date plans for this weekend. Things were pretty much up in the air until J.C. saw that Alejandro Escovedo was going to be playing at the Redstone Room in Davenport. I bought the tickets online on Friday, and J.C. reserved us a room at a nearby hotel later that night.

The last time J.C. reserved us a room online at a place we'd never seen...well, let's just say that while riding the elevator I was twice asked if I was looking for any drugs. This time, we arrived at the hotel, and it looked deserted. Inside, there were burned-out neon signs for a restaurant and lounge that appeared to have closed fifteen years ago. We decided the place would be fine; besides, the place where we wanted to stay was booked. Then, when the clerk went to swipe J.C.'s debit card, the machine wouldn't work. He asked us to stop by later to try and swipe the card again, and he gave us our room keys. When we got upstairs, the room keys wouldn't work. The little green light would come on, but the door wasn't budging. It was like it was deadbolted from the inside. I looked around at the scuffed doors and dingy walls and imagined someone cooking meth on the other side of the door. We returned to the lobby, and the clerk sent a woman upstairs to check the door. She returned a few minutes later and said it worked fine. So, we went upstairs, and she had propped open the door via the deadbolt, which seemed a little odd, though not ominous or anything. J.C. stepped inside and snapped back the bolt and I stayed outside and tried the key again. No dice. J.C. exited the room and said we were leaving. The desk clerk seemed a little disappointed, like it was his fault, but really it wasn't. Our main reason for wanting to leave was that in the time we were there we saw only two people in the hotel besides the two workers. At least the hotel where I could have bought drugs in the elevator had lots of people around.

We ended up trying the place that was allegedly booked for the night, and they had a vacancy. So, the "new" hotel was only two blocks from the concert venue, and two blocks from one of the river boats. Plus, it had a king-sized bed that was just fantastic. And the place was clean.
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The Escovedo show was probably the best concert I've ever seen. The venue only holds 250 people. Onstage, there was Escovedo, another acoustic guitar player, and a fiddle player. Gorgeous, gorgeous music.

The martinis at the place are named for blues musicians, and I drank Junior Browns: Maker's Mark, sweet vermouth, and grenadine. They looked very Valentine's Day-appropriate. Gorgeous, gorgeous drinks.
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After the show we ventured over to the river boat. I lost some money playing the slots, and then J.C. and I found a diner that served burgers. Afterwards, I decided I wanted to play twenty dollars worth of blackjack, so we walked upstairs, and I sat down at what I thought was a five-dollar minimum table. I handed the dealer my twenty bucks, and she said, "This isn't blackjack. It's hold 'em, and it costs fifteen just to play a hand." I told her that was fine; if I lost, I'd only play one hand.

I'd never played hold 'em at a casino, and it must have shown. The dealer, Nancy, immediately took me under her wing. She told me how and when to bet, and five or so hands later I was up about sixty bucks. Then Nancy had to switch tables. Before she left, she leaned into me and said, "Know when to walk away," as if she was Kenny Rogers. I wanted to give her a kiss.

I stayed in a few more hands and still walked away with twenty-five extra dollars after tipping the two dealers a total of fifteen bucks.

I know it's only twenty-five bucks, but my god it was fun playing hold 'em against the dealer. Way more fun than blackjack. I almost wish I hadn't done it, because I'm ready right now to go back and play for a few hours.
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Another thing I do when I'm not writing much is come up with ideas for things to write about.

Today alone, I've been toying with the following ideas:

A monologue by a guy who sells knives on infomercials. He wears a fake mustache and has a love/hate relationship with Ron Popeil.

A book of semi-biographical poems written from the persona of Gram Parsons. A sort of life-story, but, you know, made up.
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And though I haven't been writing much of anything, the stuff I've written has been well received lately. In addition to that little essay that I said got picked up, I found out another little flash fiction of mine is going to be published in the Spring issue of Blue Earth Review. I'd entered the piece in their flash fiction contest. While I didn't win, they did think enough of the story to want to publish it, and for that, I am grateful. I'll let y'all know when it becomes available.
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Did I mention that king-sized bed at the hotel? J.C. and I are in the process of looking for a house to buy, and we've decided on a new priority: We want a bedroom that is large enough for a king-sized bed. Seriously, people. Have you ever slept on one of these things? It was like sleeping on Rhode Island.
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I suppose I need something halfway decent to wrap up this post. About that hotel we ended up staying at: We loved that it was two blocks from the Redstone Room, and we loved that it was only two blocks from the casino. We loved that there were lots of other people around, and that it was clean. We loved, of course, that king-sized bed. This morning, though, when I went to get in the shower, I noticed there was no shower curtain. I wasn't going to let that keep me from showering. You may not know this about me, but I love showers. Showering, sleeping, and eating. I can't get enough of any of them. So I got into the shower-curtain-less shower, and the water wasn't getting very hot. If the water had been hot, then that enormous mirror across from me would have fogged right away. As it was, it took almost fifteen minutes for the water to get hot enough for the mirror to fog.

In the end, I really, really don't recommend showering when you are able to look at yourself in the mirror.


fringes said...

Thanks for this. You aren't such a bad storyteller yourself, sadchimpson.

Heather said...

I can't believe you two went to see Alejandro and didn't tell me! Oh, he's so dreamy . . . for a middle-aged man with hepatitis C. Please tell J.C. she's in the doghouse till I hear from her with more about that, even though I am quite pleased she's healthy enough to kick up her heels again.

Lisa said...

Sounds like a great time—the concert, the bed, and coming out ahead. Greato.

I feel compelled to add that your Maker's Mark cocktail should really have been called a Manhattan, not a martini. Mmm, I love Manhattans and make them at home sometimes.