New Fiction

I’ve been working this past few months on short fiction.  You wouldn’t think this would be such a hard thing to do, given my rate of production in the last ten years (almost fifteen novels, scores of book reviews, a few assorted nonfiction pieces, and all the blog entries, both here and on Dangerous Intersection), but short fiction is peculiar.  Hell, anything is peculiar.  If you’re used to writing one form, switching to another can be very difficult.  There are some writers, I know (and some I know) who have no trouble moving between forms, but for whatever reason I do.

I feel as though some time in the last several years I’ve forgotten how to write a short story.

So after completing my last novel (the murder mystery) I opted to go back to short fiction.  I finished The Drowned Doll in late March.  Here it is nigh unto to the end of July and finally I’m doing short stories.

Last month I finished a story for Lee Martindale for an anthology she’s editing, got it in the mail, and she took it.  Amazing what a sale will do for your spirits.  This past week I finished the rough draft of a novelette and this morning I have begun another new story.

These last two are interesting in that I have no idea where they came from.  Writers get asked with such numbing regularity “Where do you get your ideas?” that it seems to me occasionally I should print up small cards with the various answers to hand out.  There is only one true answer—I have no idea!

Once in a while I can trace the germ of a story back to a couple of sources—an overheard comment, an article, something on television or the radio—and in the case of anthologies, it’s a bit simpler.  The anthology is about X, ergo the story will be about X.  The unique feature will be the way it’s about X, and that’s the whole point.  The real guts of a story is in the execution, the approach, the viewpoint.  Ideas are easy—so easy we often don’t even know we’ve had them until we start writing the story.

What you do with your ideas is where the action is, and that’s where the work comes in.  That’s why when someone approaches us and says “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a novel.  I’ll tell you what it is, you write it, we’ll make a fortune” we usually laugh.  Thanks.  Got plenty of ideas, friend.  What is required is lots and lots of hard work!  You do half the sweating, you get half the money.

Case in point is the story I just finished and the one I just started.  In both instances, all I had was a title.  The title of the completed one was a phrase I jotted down at the Dante reading group we attend.  It just sounded cool.  So a couple weeks ago, I sat my butt in my chair, opened a new file, typed in the header, and put the title up.

And stared at it.

About an hour of that and I came up with a first sentence.  That sentence had the seed of the rest of the tale.  I just started writing.  With a few pages I had the basic concept fleshed out.  I laughed, too, because I still have no idea where this idea came from.

Now, it’s a first draft and I already know it won’t survive the rewrite.  But I needed to get this stuff down and out of the way before I could get to the meaty stuff.

So while Donna goes over it with her vicious red pen, I decided to write another new one.

Again, I opened a file, put all the top matter in, and typed a title:  Decadence.  (I know where that came from, there’s a copy of Jacques Barzun’s Dawn To Decadence right in front of me.)  Okay, catchy title.  Now what?  There’s a lot to say about that subject, a lot has been said.  I want to write a science fiction story below that title.

Stare at the screen.

Hell with it, walk the dog.  We did almost two miles this morning.

And I sat down and wrote the first sentence:  Lew heard them talking.

I know what the story will be now.  I just have to build it.  (No, I won’t tell you what it is, you’ll just have to wait.)  But I couldn’t tell you where it came from.  There are galaxies of loose-floating factoids in my brain and when I require them to they collide, join, recombine, coalesce.  Sounds mysterious and miraculous, doesn’t it?  Again, though, it’s sweat.  I work hard to gather all those bits so that when I do need to come up with a story there are plenty of them available to at least start.

If I finish this one, I’ll start to feel a bit better about my program to recover my short story skills.  It’s always a work in progress, a construction project.

construction-remains.jpg

So, on now to the task.

Interview Complete

Over on Dangerous Intersection, all of my interview has been posted.  It’s up in three separate posts, seven parts altogether.  The links to each post are here:

http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/07/18/mark-tiedemann-speaks/

http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/07/19/mark-tiedemann-interview-parts-iv-and-v/

 http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/07/21/mark-tiedemann-wraps-up/

Watching them now leaves me with mixed feelings.  This was almost a year-and-a-half ago.  The entire thing was done in the most casual way.  Erich had a few primer questions and then he just let me ramble.  There are bits I’d say differently now, but in essence not much would I change.  A couple of points are less clear than I’d like—the question about whether we are a “christian nation” is not answered as well as I would have preferred (Are we a christian nation?  No.  Are we a nation of christians?  Largely.  I wanted to make it clear that the secular nature of what the Founders established is so for a very, very good reason) but I think the idea gets across.

This is eerie in many ways.  It’s like watching someone else who happens to look and sound like me and, yeah, I agree with the guy.

Anyway, I am very happy to have been given the chance to do this.  I hope people who check them out are entertained if nothing else.

A Moment of Celebrity Type Stuff

A friend of mine, the estimable Erich Veith, came by my home a bit over a year ago and we recorded a long interview.  Erich has finally gotten around to editing it and has begun posting segments on YouTube.  Here’s the first one.  (I still haven’t figured out how to embed videos here, so bear with me.)

Erich runs the website  Dangerous Intersection, where I post opinionated blatherings from time to time and Erich graciously allows me to hold forth in my own idiosyncratic manner.  Why he thought people would also enjoy watching and hearing me as well, I can’t say, but I enjoyed the process and from the looks of the first three (which are up at Dangerous Intersection) I don’t think I came off too badly.

The one thing that has puzzled me about Erich these past few years is, where does he find the time to do what he does?  I mean, he’s a lawyer, for one thing.  He has two daughters his wife and he are raising.  He’s a musician who occasionally gigs.  And he runs this website, which is quite large and has a lot of traffic, and would seem to me to be just a lot of damn work.  If you haven’t spent some time there, do.  In my experience it’s unique and I’ve enjoyed being a small part of it.

My thanks to Erich for the opportunity to play at celebrity just a wee bit.  I hope others enjoy the results.

Radio Markets and Discontent

Personal gripe time.  This is one of those instances where I believe The Market is a hydrocephalic moron and people who put their undying faith in get what they deserve.

Shortly after the 4th of July just past, a St. Louis radio station changed hands.  KFUO 99.1 FM had, for sixty-plus years, been our commercial classical station.  Before the first Gulf War, our local NPR affiliate, KWMU, was largely a classical music broadcaster, but after that first foray into Mid east adventurism they became pretty much All Talk All Day.  Mind you, I like some of what they offer—Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, Diane Rheem—but I am a lover of music.  My youth, in regards to radio, was all about music.  I cannot tolerate most of Talk Radio, especially the right wing stuff, but I’m not overly fond of the left wing blatherings, either.  Give me a good solid news show twice a day and then fill the airwaves with music.

This has become a subject of nostalgia for me, because for the most part the music scene on radio has devolved into mind-numbing banality and repetition.  Catering to The Market has the net result of leavening out at the lowest common denominator, so instead of fascinating, new, or just first-rate music, we get the cuts that will appeal to the greatest number of whatever demographic a given station thinks it’s playing to.

After KWMU went All Talk, little by little I began listening to KFUO.  They did not do as good a job, overall, as KWMU—I am a firm believer in airing complete works, so when I am offered A Movement of a symphony or what have you I am turned off; I want the whole damn thing or don’t bother (this is also true of other genres as well: I once got into a shouting match with a DJ over his insistence of playing the three-minute version of an Emerson, Lake & Palmer track that, in its fullness, ran to twelve minutes, and he demanded to know who wanted to listen to all that synthesizer soloing, to which I replied “people who like ELP, you moron!”  Needless to say, I lost that one, but I resent the whole assumption that the attention span of people will never exceed five minutes—if you assume that and that’s all you give them, you train them to have short attention spans)—but it was classical music, and I find myself, aging that I am, more and more indulging in that genre (if genre it is) out of sheer boredom and impatience with most other forms.  At least, on the radio.

So KFUO became my car station.  (At home I listen to albums.  I would eliminate DJs and commercials if I could.  Playing my own discs, I can.)

Due to the demands of The Market, the impatience of shareholders, etc etc, management at KFUO—the Lutheran Church, basically—sold the station.  It is now Joy 99, playing contemporary Christian pop…stuff.

I’ve attempted to listen to some of it, but I find it unremittingly boring.  And I am pissed.  Where can I now go on the radio to get classical music?  Well, KWMU has taken advantage of the new high definition broadcast tech to split itself into multiple channels and has one dedicated to classical music.  But I can’t get that in the car.  Can’t get it at home on my stereo, either, unless I buy new equipment, which is a source of resentment as well.  We live in an age where if one does not have the latest, most up-to-date Thingie, at a cost of X hundred dollars per widget, one cannot partake of the goodies available—and the media changes often enough that buying new Thingies is now every couple, three years.

Pardon my expression—Fuck That!  This is the Microsoft model taken to extremes.  It is a form of class division, based on tech-savvy and money.  You don’t have to pass laws to keep the so-called Unwashed out of the Club, you just have to make sure they can’t afford the newest Thingie.

Ahem.  Excuse me, that was paranoid of me.  I have no reason to believe this is intentional.  This is The Market, in all its lobotomized asininity.

Back for a moment to the new KFUO.  It is boring.  (I am beginning to recognize a pattern.  Christian pop sounds somewhat-to-mainly Country.  The southern lilt to the vocals, the excessively forced emotional warbling, twisting notes through laryngeal gymnastics for no reason other than to make use of a single chord for a few moments longer.  Never mind the lyrics—I didn’t have a problem with groups like Creed, at least not initially: the music was interesting, the lyrics showed a modicum of ingenuity—just the American Idol approach to hyped emotionalism as substitute for actual content.  But I really cannot abide dull music.  Even when, initially, this stuff sounds like they’re getting down with some passion, it’s really just arrangement and playing with the compression.  The simplest chords, the over-reliance on melody—almost always in major keys—and the de-emphasizing of anything that might distract from the primary message of the lyric content.  Now, KFUO, having been a Lutheran station, played a great deal of sacred music.  Most of which was GLORIOUS.  Beautiful, sonorous, majestic, interesting!  Composed by musicians who saw no reason to muffle their strengths, but put what they had into such compositions because the music itself was a form of worship, an offering to what they believed, honest and unhampered passion.  Modern Christian rock seems to do everything it can to apologize for being rock.  Of course, there’s a reason for this, since a good deal of what these folks espouse is a typical American attitude that sensuality is an enemy to faith, and let’s face it, rock is all about sensuality.  So, too, is jazz, perhaps even more so, which may be why one hears almost no Christian jazz.)  Boring is inexcusable, I don’t care what cause it is in the name of.

Somehow some one or more “consultant” companies told the new owners that this will attract a larger market share than what KFUO had been doing.  For all I know, they’re right.  I have little faith in the taste of the masses, as a mass.  Most of the people I have ever known as casual acquaintances have exhibited appalling taste in the arts.  You have to be aware to be sensitive to nuance, to passion, to genuine merit, and it seems that most people move through life barely conscious of their surroundings.

(I once had the most frustrating interchange with a woman at a party who kept complaining that everything I was putting on the stereo was “depressing.”  Her word.  Depressing.  What was I playing?  Flim and the BBs, Grover Washington, McCoy Tyner, things like that.  I couldn’t figure it out until she demanded, somewhat drunkenly,”Where’s the singing?”  Unless there was singing, it was depressing.  Of course, by singing she didn’t mean opera, she meant anything she could sing along to.  This was more music as sport than art.)

So after a couple of weeks of listening the all this strained pseudo-music sung by earnest C & W types against the most singularly undifferentiated backgrounds, I am officially peeved.    I’d like my classical music back, please.  I don’t care about demographics.  There are dozens of other stations where one can hear similarly banal  excrescence, albeit possibly without the juvenile nonsense worship lyrics.  KFUO served an audience that is now not served at all, and I can’t help wondering if this is at least partly propagandistic.  That this is as much an effort to force a single voice onto the airwaves, driving out the specialist, minority voices, as it is to maximize returns on investment.

Of course, that would be a bit paranoid, wouldn’t it?

Except that over forty years of listening to radio I can’t help but notice that every instance of a station or a show that reached a bit higher, took a chance on quality, played the unexpected or occasionally controversial—all those stations were, one by one, taken over and dragged back down into the stew pot of “popular taste” at expense of anything genuinely challenging or interesting.  Regardless of genre.  Mediocrity is the hallmark of the largest market share.

Have a good weekend.

James Hogan, Troubled In His Stars

James P. Hogan had died.

He wrote science fiction.  The books I read, over 20 years ago, were generally pretty good.  He has the distinction for me of having written one of my favorite debut novels, Inherit the Stars.  It was a murder mystery, a science mystery, a space adventure, and a thorough-going exposition on forensics of all sorts, including, in the end, “evolutionary” forensics (if such a thing exists).

There is profound irony in that.  The plot hinges around a spacesuited corpse found on the moon at a time when it shouldn’t have been there.  The story is the series of investigations finding out where it came from.  Mars, it is ultimately learned.  But the creature in the suit—hundreds of thousands of years old—could not possibly have evolved on Mars.  Hogan employed genetics and evolutionary biology to solve the mystery.

The irony is that later in his life—for all I know, even then—he became an evolution denier.  Go to his web page and you can find links to papers by such leading lights of woo-woo Intelligent Design as Michael Behe and William Dembski.

But that’s not all.  He was a Holocaust Denier.  He was careful not to put it up as a category on his site, with the other things he seemed to be opposed to.  Yet he had made public statements to that effect.

I stopped reading Hogan when it became clear in his novels that he harbored an absolute hatred of communism and the Soviet Union, so much so that occasionally the polemic spilled into the prose and he seemed at times on the verge of blaming everything on them.  I was never a fan of the Eastern Bloc, but science fiction ought to be about opening possibilities, not treating our entrenched fears as some sort of biblical dogma.  I got bored.  I never went back.  I wonder sometimes how he coped with Perestroika and the collapse of the Wall.
I write this as a coda to the bit on Mel Gibson.   I read many of his novels and enjoyed them.  I had even spent time in his company and found it pleasurable.  He could tell a good story, a good joke, he was witty, and certainly smart.  But smart doesn’t guarantee rationality or a lock on truth.  Very smart people sometimes hold the most bizarre ideas in the face of reality—of course, being very smart they can explain their misconstruals in such a way that undoing them can become nearly impossible.

But the work was one thing, the man something else.  I doubt, knowing what I know about his politics and beliefs now, I’ll bother to read another of his books—there’s too little time and too many other books, so any method of cutting back on the list is viable—but all I can do in retrospect is shake my head and wonder at the dark cul-de-sacs humans sometimes slip into and never get out of.

Mel Gibson and Other Musings

So Mel Gibson has been exposed (once again) as an intolerant, sexist, abusive person.  A recording of a phone conversation with his former girlfriend is now Out There on the internet and one can listen to Mel spill molten verbiage into her earpiece while she calmly refutes his charges.

All I can wonder is,  So what?

What business is this of ours?  This is private stuff.  People lose control.  Between each other, with strangers, but more often with those closest, people have moments when the mouth ill-advisedly opens and vileness falls out.  The question is, does this define us?  Are we, in fact, only to be defined by our worst moments?

That would seem to be the case for people like Gibson.  The reason, I think, is that for most of us, the Mel Gibsons of the world have no business having shitty days and acting like this.  For most of us, there is just cause for having these kinds of days and attitudes, because for most of us the world is not our oyster and we do not have the luxury of squandering time, friends, and money.  Mel Gibson is wealthy and famous and, at one time, admired.  He ate at the best restaurants, appeared on television, gave interviews, has his picture on the covers of magazines.  Is seen with other people, regularly, who fall into that category of Those Who Have It Made.

They aren’t supposed to have bad days.  They aren’t supposed to be shitty to their lovers.  They aren’t supposed to act like people who are desperate, down on their luck, and bitterly outraged at the world.

The question, though, is, do people who are down on their luck and bitter with their (admittedly pathetic) lot in life act that way?  How would we know?  Joe Asfalt doesn’t get interviewed by People or Us and when he has a falling out with his girlfriend the tabloids do not follow him or them around, looking for a scoop on their latest battle.  When Joe or his girl toss each other out of the house, no one is watching except the neighbors.  So how do we know how they behave?

Maybe we assume they behave that way and it gives pleasure to see Mel Gibson being a jerk.  Makes him “one of us.”  Except he isn’t.

But I don’t really give a damn about the private uglinesses of either Joe Asfalt or Mel Gibson.  It only matters to me when their private shittiness emerges into a public display, as in the case of Tom Cruise’s  asinine, Scientology-driven jeremiads about post-partum depression.  That matters because he is Tom Cruise and, like it or not, people put stock in what he says, and that incident had impact on peoples’ lives, not the least of which was Brooke Shields.  If Mel Gibson went berserk during an interview and made pronouncements about “the proper attire, place, position, and attitude” of women, then I’d care about what he thinks and says, because that would have consequences.

What is unfortunate is that such things affect how we view their work.  It’s not fair, really.  People run the gamut, from really wonderful to really awful, and some of those people are artists.  Some of those artists are really good and create wonderful things, even those artists who may otherwise be reprehensible human beings.  In this regard I can understand the attitude of someone like J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon, who have done all they could to keep people out of their private lives.  They given almost no interviews, they never made a big deal about themselves in public, eschewing the limelight.  In the case of someone like Salinger, the hermit approach actually contributed to his celebrity, fueling further book sales, because it becomes part of the myth about him.  It would not matter if he had done what he did with exactly that in mind, it would have happened anyway.  Pynchon less so, perhaps.

But I can respect the idea that this was done precisely so the work wasn’t colored by the personality of the artist in ways that have nothing to do with the work.

Society at large has a hunger for the viscera of the artist.  People who may never see a film, read a book, listen to a record with any genuine appreciation for the content of the work will nevertheless pay attention to those things in direct proportion to how much celebrity is attached to the artist.  So much so that we have phenomena like Paris Hilton who is famous for being famous.

I’ve been mulling these ideas over lately because of the reverse question—how well does any artist know his or her audience?

And do they want to?

Demographics seem to drive everything today.  Targeting your audience correctly is the holy grail of promotions.  Is that movie geared toward the 18-to-24 crowd?  Women more than men?  What income bracket?  Education?  In the case of books, this leads me to ask, if they are in “my” demographic target, does that mean they will buy my books because they are predisposed to reading them, or is something much less causally connected, like those people who actually read who are part of that demographic may be more likely to buy my books than people who read who are part of some other demographic…

But what is it about those other demographics that precludes the likelihood that they’ll buy my book?  That they’d more likely buy some other author’s books, based on the perception that he or she writes for the 25-to-45 upper middle class crowd.

Pondering this makes my brain hurt.  Of all the factors that contribute to defining a demographic likely to do A rather than B or C, which factors contribute to a strong likelihood that none of them will fit the demographic that will pay attention to your work.

And if some of those factors have to do with your public persona, then you have to ask which part?  The part that no one is ever supposed to know anything about (like a private phone call to a soon-to-be-ex-lover) or the part that you might tailor exclusively for public consumption.  In which case, isn’t that as much a work of art as the work of art you’re trying to sell?

But at the end of the day, I’m still left wondering just why anyone is really interested in someone’s private life they do not know.  Not, mind you, in the sense of being disinterested in biography as history—the private labyrinths of a Howard Hughes become, over time, fascinating because of the archaeological nature of examining his legacy—but in the sense of trying to find a one-to-one relevance between you and a celebrity.  In that sense, it becomes legitimate to ask what purpose was served by the years of public attention to some like Wynona Judd and her seeming inability to have a happy life.  The feedback loop between personal tragedy, public perception-reception, and attempted “managing” of the personal in order to accommodate a publicity machine creates an ongoing kind of performance art that eventually has less to do with authentic experience and more to do with Artist As Subject, and therefore becomes increasingly artificial, at least in presentation, regardless of any reality—a reality which, under pressure from the attention, retreats further from the limelight and takes on further burdens in the attempt to be private.  You could see the whole thing as a kind of therapy conducted on the couch of public opinion, but to what benefit?  The thing receiving the therapy becomes less the person than the image.

And then who is being served?  Is this merely entertainment or is there in fact a public function in all this closet-revelation?

One thinks of politicians immediately, in particular with respect to sexual impropriety.  Do the private practices of an individual have anything to do with his or her ability to do a particular job?

I suppose it’s a matter of what job they are required to do.  A senator whose campaign, election, and office concerned fiscal responsibility and who by any measure performs this task competently if not excellently is revealed to keep a mistress or two.  What does the one have to do with the other?  Nothing, really.  Private pecadilloes matter when the impropriety is directly connected with the job—for instance, if said senator had a history of insider trading or embezzlement.

But then those would not be private, would they?  They would involved public factors.  Not sex, but monetary impropriety, even if kept private (and how could it be unless we’re talking about a loan from a brother-in-law that was never repaid?), has a direct public impact.

Another senator whose campaign, election, and subsequent legislation bear on families, divorce laws, obscenity laws, laws governing the dissemination of birth control or the availability of abortion services or even information about birth control and abortion, or perhaps support of a foreign regime in which women are oppressed, then turns out to be cheating on his wife or has a history of using prostitutes.  Well, that bears directly, doesn’t it?  The hypocrisy of a Family Values politician keeping mistresses certainly is relevant to public policy.

As unlikely as it might be that such a politician would be elected, someone who declared openly that he or she has had and may continue to have partners before, during, and outside of marriage would not, in my opinion, raise a question of moral conflict under these circumstances.  We could vote for or against from the beginning, there would be no deception.  Likewise with the politician who had exercised “poor judgment” in fiscal matters.

But the complicating factor in such instances would be how the private matters were disclosed.  This hinges on the question of whether or not a person can and does change over time.  The recently deceased Senator Byrd’s past affiliation with the KKK is an example.  Given the opportunity and time, he demonstrated that, at least in the performance of his office, that circumstance had been left in the past.  Whether he had truly changed in his sentiments is beside the point next to his subsequent public record.

What all this has to do with Mel Gibson is relevant only in the question of when and how the revelation of private failings is legitimate.  Does the knowledge that Mel Gibson can be a foul-mouthed, abusive, sexist racist impact anyone or anything outside his circle of acquaintances?  Because they, presumably, judge him and act accordingly without public input.  Does this kind of “news” serve any function beyond attracting and increasing the kind of attention that sells tabloids?

Because everyone has a part of themselves they would rather keep exclusively between themselves and their chosen intimates.  Would it be fair if all of us were recorded displaying our less wonderful aspects and having said recording sent, say, to prospective employers or the dating services we might use or our new date or to the shopowners and restaurateurs we frequent or to business associates?  If all their dealings with us to date have been positive, how are they supposed to react if something like that were suddenly dropped into their lap?  And how would we defend ourselves from the predictable reactions?

I’m just wondering.

Context

Well, well, it seems I’ll be doing three conventions this year.  I’d planned originally on one, but then I found out about MadCon 2010, in Madison, Wisconsin, which is ostensibly Harlan Ellison’s last convention.  He claims.  Not that I’m inclined to disbelieve him, but…

I’ve been asked to participate in programming at Context 23 in Columbus, Ohio.  I’ve heard many good things about this convention and some friends have been pestering me to attend for a long time.  I’ve been reluctant to do conventions that cost me anything out of pocket unless something really special is going on, because, well, I don’t have a book coming out or anything else to promote.  But one friend is conducting workshops there and another (also conducting workshops) has made still another friend an offer to do the driving for the three of us and so I decided, what the hell.  Confused?  Don’t be.  I’m not.

Way back in 2002 I attended another Columbus convention.  Marcon.  My then-editor at Meisha Merlin was invited by them to be their editor GoH and he suggested maybe I should attend as well and we could do a release party for Metal of Night.  I agreed.  It entailed my going through a flight from Purgatory, which turned into a good story around drinks.  But then upon arrival we both sort of realized we’d made a mistake.

Marcon is a fairly large convention.  The reason?  It’s predominantly media.  Within two hours we noted half the cast from Earth:Final Conflict, Virginia Hey from Farscape, the ever-energetic Richard Hatch still (then) on his endless circuit to get Battlestar Galactica remade, and a number of other media guests.  The reading-and-writing component was in the minority.  One good thing about that con was I got to meet Dr. Demento.

Going through the program book, I came upon an add for Context.  The tagline read “the convention for those of us who actually read the stuff.”

So now I’m going.  I have to fill out the programming questionaire.  Who knows?  Maybe before then I’ll have sold a new novel and have something to brag about.  What?  It could happen.

Test Flight

Last night we did something in this house we’ve not done in years.

We broiled steaks.

Oh, yes, we like our new stove.  We filled the manse with the aroma of good things to eat and lo, they were good to eat.  Our taste buds did happy dances while we feasted.  I assume our guests likewise experienced satori, possibly with each bite.

Steak, asparagus, rice, sour dough rye bread, salad…we did it up royally.  Two excellent bottles of wine.  (My mother, by the way, would be amazed that I’d eaten asparagus willingly.  As a child I was most decidedly anti-vegetable.  I’m still less interested in them than in meat, but since I’ve learned what some of them taste like when properly prepared…)

Yes, I am a carnivore.  Proud of it.  Should the Vegans seize control of the nuclear arsenals of the world and force the U.N. to adopt resolutions eliminating the consumption of flesh by humans, I will take up arms to depose them.  I long ago adopted my metric, which is that any animal I would have as a pet will not be served as dinner in my house, but as I am disinclined to make a pet of cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and so on and so forth, it is a narrow range of critters exempt from my dietary preferences.

And last night I demonstrated to myself once more why.

There is an excellent store in St. Louis Hills, an old Tom-Boy that has become part deli, part butcher shop, part catering company.  Le Grand has the best cuts and I bought three one-pound rib-eyes, two pork steaks, two pounds of ground beef and cooked last night.  Friends were over.  We feasted.  The star of the evening was our new appliance, without which….

It may be a while before we broil again—it’s summer and the kitchen is, after all, small—but that leaves a great deal to play with on the range.

Anyway, I just wanted to report that we have inaugurated the stove and it proved worthy.

Hope the weekend is a good one for you.