Updated on Friday as questions continue to arrive.
I'm having some trouble concentrating on the blog this week. Typepad, ever helpful, has some tips for bloggers running short on inspiration. One of the tips is "Invite your readers to ask you a question."
Ok. Consider yourself invited.
Ask me anything.
11:05 AM. Our first question comes from Rana, who writes, "Pick one place you've encountered in your travels, moves, etc. that, if you could, you would transport to your current location. Would you tell us about it and the memories or qualities that make you want it to be a regular part of your life?"
Ah, this morning that's easy. The Hot Chocolate Sparrow from Orleans, MA. A clean, well-lighted place, reliable and free WiFi connection, great coffee and these:
11:15. From actor212, our next question is, "Bachelor Number Three...if you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be? :-) OK, serious question: If you could bring back to life just one person and have them answer just one question fully, who and what question?"
An Australian pine on the beach at Key Biscayne. Good looking tree, lots of company, holds the breezes, great view.
Abraham Lincoln. "Mr President, just what exactly did you have planned for Reconstruction?"
11:35. actor212 has a follow-up: "Interesting choice of Lincoln, Lance. Why, and why that question?"
That question because I've often wondered if Lincoln had a plan that would have brought the South back into the Union on Union terms rather than on its own terms the way it finally came back. Lincoln, because he's one of the figures from American history I most admire without feeling as though I know him. I wonder what my reaction to him in person would have been? A lot of people found him strange and off-putting. So I guess it really doesn't matter to me what I'd ask him. I just want to hear him talk and watch his reactions and his manner. Apparently he told really, really, really dirty jokes.
11:50. Ken Muldrew wants to know, "Did you ever finish Against The Day? Was it worth it?"
Ken, it isn't necessary to finish any of Thomas Pynchon's novels, except for maybe V. Pynchon is so brilliant that if you've read just a few sentences from each of his books you will have imbibed more wisdom, intelligence, and great prose than if you had read through the entire ouevres of Melville, Twain, James, Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Jacqueline Susan. Consequently, I am prouder of my having gotten through the whole first chapter of Against the Day than of my having read all of Moby Dick when I was 12. Think about the genius at work here! A 1062 page novel written in the style of the kind of boys adventure pulp that hasn't been published in over 70 years? Who but Pynchon would have had the audacity?
12:45. Campaspe chimes in trying to give me homework. "Are you ever going to write a Mortimer/Rumpole valediction, or are you still too sad?"
You had to remind me. Now I'm sad again.
Seriously. I'm going to get to it, right after I finish my Taming of the Shrew post.
Ha ha ha!
Um....I'm working on it?
"In Rumpole's world, women are more competent, smarter, tougher. Doesn't threaten him. He's not a feminist. Not particularly fond of women either. His libido and a good chunk of his heart died when his first fiancee, the girl who came before She Who Must Be Obeyed, died. He doesn't care how good women, or men, are at anything except at winning cases in court. He measures everybody against that one ability. The only thing worth doing. And since he's the best at that, by far, he doesn't care how more or less competent than men women are, and he's glad to help them out in their careers even at the expense of men. It happens that the only barrister of his acquaintance who comes close to rivaling him is a woman, Philda Erskine-Browne, nee Trant, 'the Portia of our Chambers.' But since Philada is ambitious and wants to advance in legal circles, she has to become a prosecutor and use her considerable talents to get people locked up, which diminishes her a bit in Rumpole's eyes..."
1:19. Dr. Inteuri, one of the finer writers blogging, has a writing question. "Do you engage in any "rituals" to help you write? If yes, what are they? (e.g. music, beverages, meditating on the blinking cursor, etc.)"
Lots of writers hate me when they hear this. I've never had trouble getting started writing. I can start in as soon as I sit down. I can start in while I'm walking. In fact, I have started in while driving. My only problems writing have been finding the time and feeling physically up to it. Rituals don't make a headache go away or add hours to the day. I used to to need to write with a certain kind of pen. I also used to have to work at a table instead of at a desk. In grad school I used to do my best writing on Friday nights, so I would arrange my social life around that. So more than I've ever had rituals, I've had fetishes.
6:43. And we're back with more. Here's a question from Solver. "Lance, I've started following your blog a few months ago so maybe you've covered this before. You seem to write a lot about pretty girls and cops. Is there a reason for that? You are a male so the former makes sense although most middle aged gentlemen, for whatever reason, avoid the subject if they have a family. Why cops then?"
Solver, our old friend Chris the Cop would probably say that I don't write about cops enough. His specific complaint is that I've been remiss in relating a lot of great Chris the Cop stories. Expect more writing about cops in the near future.
Now, as to why I've written as much as I have about cops, I think it's because I'm genetically predisposed to like cops. My great-grandfather was a cop. In fact, he was a hero-cop. He dove off bridges to rescue people drowning in rivers and single-handedly chased down and collared notorious Albany gangster types running from the scenes of crimes that involved bullets flying and bodies falling in pools of blood. He was a real-life T.J. Hooker.
Newspaper accounts don't mention if he had a real life Heather Locklear helping him out, but that would explain the pretty girl thing too if he had.
9:30. Speaking of our old friend Chris the Cop, our old friend Chris the Cop has a question. "Ever read any Ken Bruen and if so, what did you think?"
No, I haven't, Chris. But after visiting his website I now want to. I take it you recommend him? Which of his books should I start with?
9:50. Lina asks an historical question of the kind I've been waiting for all day. Lina writes, "Did Richard III really kill his nephews? Or was he the victim of Shakespearean/Tudor slander? "
Lina, as those of us who know the true history have always said, Richard Plantagenet was a handsome, brave, virtuous, and kindly man and the rumors of his villainy were started by Harry Tudor. Richard loved his little nephews and was tender and generous towards them and wholly protective. He was also a great and wise leader who would have brought England a golden age if he had not been accidentally killed at Bosworth Field by another nephew, Edmund, known to history as the Blackadder.
Friday 11:15 AM. Jim 7 has a health question. "Whole life or term? And what IS Universal?"
Jim, I think Typepad is acting up again and garbled your comment a bit. You meant "Whole wheat or wheat germ," correct? Either is good because you want to avoid those bleached flours and processed sugars. Universal is a movie and television production company in Hollywood that used to be most famous for producing classic horror films like Frankenstein and The Mummy.