I put Carol on a plane Thursday morning for Chicago, after her mom was taken to the hospital late Tuesday night. Delores is doing a lot better now, but for a few days it was unclear just what was going on. We were both planning on flying out there on the 16th, so this wasn't an immense change in our summer plans--it just means I'm here by myself for a bit, trying not to eat like a bachelor nor dress like a college student.
I didn't get the whole story yesterday when I cited the YouTube video of Carol's sister talking about her experiences at her local Ford dealership. It's actually a clever piece of marketing, though I'm also sure it's not viral: The dealership will award a gift certificate to the customer garnering the most clicks on their YouTube video by July 15. So do us a favor and go look at the video. Thanks! (I will admit I'm curious to see how many clicks a citation on Contra can generate, and this is a rare opportunity to find out, with real numbers.)
When Carol's gone, I generally drown my sorrows by writing, but I ran into an interesting problem yesterday. I finished Chapter 7 of Old Catholics last week. I won't know how good it is until I get a month's emotional distance from it, but in the meantime there's Chapter 8. The problem came in when I sat down to write, me in my shorts with an iced tea on the coaster, the sun beating down on the oaks outside my window, only to realize that Chapter 8 is the Christmas chapter. It's about the quirky Polish Christmas vigil supper at St. JJ's, and draws heavily on my own experiences with Polish Christmas vigil suppers, both quirky and ordinary. It was 86 degrees out yesterday afternoon, and no matter what I did, I just could not get my interior state to feel like Christmas. It may be the mark of a true hack to be able to write convincingly about Christmas during the second week of July, but I may need to go back to hack school. I just can't do it.
No matter. I've been working on Old Catholics since 2005; what's another five or six months' delay? In the meantime, there's "Drumlin Circus" to work on. It's still at the notes-and-outline stage, but that doesn't mean progress isn't being made. Imagine a line of circus wagons pulled by woolly mammoths, and a show with an acrobat who performs in a cage with two live smilodons. (I may even work in a giant beaver.) And every artifact the circus owns; wagons, props, steam calliope, everything, is made out of drumlins. The Bitspace Institute kidnaps the circus master's wife, who supposedly has a private drumlin that compels wild animals to obey her. After two years without her, the circus master finds out where the Institute is keeping her, and let's say that he has a grudge. When the circus comes to a nearby town, it mounts a show that no one in town--especially the Institute--will ever forget. Pleistocene megafauna, scary clowns, calliope music, secret drumlins, the legendary Function Controller--we're gonna have a real good time!
It may be as much as 35,000 words long. Jim Strickland is doing a Drumlins novella as well, and we may try to put the two stories together as the first Copperwood Double. I'm not an ace at tete-beche, but I intend to learn. Stay tuned.