Thursday, June 23, 2011

Loose Ends by guest blogger Steven Head

I was happy to receive Steve's first, official Retirement Report from Nebraska where he has been hiding since leaving Manitowoc. So, Steve has finally spilled...he is working on a mystery novel. Over the years, I have been the happy recipient of several of Steve's skillfully written short stories, one, with blush-worthy passages, takes place in a bookstore. Steve had a thread going for a while...vignette's with people doing inappropriate things in unexpected places. They all made me chuckle, but beneath the outward silliness, were some sad characters worthy of readers' sympathy. If you've become a Steve fan over the years, I am sure you are hoping along with me that his book will find a publisher and that Steve will find his way "home" for a signing, and much anticipated reveal of who he really is.

Hey Steve...for some gaming variety try Eggz or Alu's Revenge!'s Steve

Earlier this month I worked my last 'planned' full-time day. Some may think I am retiring. I choose to say I've quit working until either the money runs out or I die. The decision does give me a great deal of free time and with it the need to develop some goals. I know only too well how a day can be lost to Freecell, naps, and munching. And that day can stretch into a week and then a month.

My first goal is to loose the 20+ pounds I gained when I returned to work following my sabbatical in 2007. Besides the challenge of controlling calories and regular exercise, there is the issue of a bathroom scale that lies. I can never count on it to give an honest report first thing. At least 3 tries are required to get a consistent reading. I could get another scale but through close observation over a period of years, I have learned scales are pathological liars.

My other goal is to finish the second draft of my mystery novel by the end of the year. The expectation is the second draft will be much better than the first. While I am keeping the same characters and location and suspicious death, everything else is open to revision. I have a new respect for authors that weave a story tightly together. It is like looking at a painting and thinking "I can do that", only to discover it is much harder than it looks.

Which takes me to a television mystery I do not admire. Over the past 13 weeks I have watched AMC's The Killing patiently, fully expecting to discover who killed Rosie Larsen on June 19th. The opener was intriguing as the characters and the murder were revealed. But by the fourth episode it felt more like a soap opera and less like a murder investigation. I knew there was a problem when the second to last episode spent the entire hour looking for the lead detective's missing son.

The writers and producers for this series have violated a number of rules, breaking faith with the viewer. Multiple red herrings, new information out of nowhere late in the game, and magical leaps of logic by the detectives. Although to call them detectives is an overstatement since they appear more like children running to catch fire flies than professionals hunting a murderer.

The season finale promotion by AMC was how the last five minutes would have everyone talking the entire summer. My reaction to those last five minutes was anger and expletives and the promise to myself not to invest any time in season two. If you have not seen this series and are interested, it repeats starting on July 19th.

With the end of June comes Summerfest and anticipation for the Tour de France. I will not be attending Summerfest this year but I will be watching the Tour on the Versus network. Live coverage begins on July 2nd as 22 teams of cyclists travel throughout France and neighboring countries over a 23 day period. Competitive cycling is like most other sports. There are prolonged periods of boredom when nothing special happens, too many commercials, and human interest stories that are not very interesting. And the brief moments demanding attention like the breakneck race to the finish line, high speed descents down mountain switchbacks, and head-over-heels crashes.

One thing that sets cycling apart from stadium sports is the countryside. The coverage is provided by a squad of dare-devil motorcyclist at road level and birds eye helicopter views. Countless picturesque small towns, castles, fields, rivers, mountains, and miles of roads make it as much travel show as sports competition. But it is a race with leaders, tactics, mechanical breakdowns, and ceremony. Give it a try, you might like it.

**********What am I reading? Just finishing The Bird Sisters, set in Spring Green, and looking forward to moving on to The Little Women Letters, and The Help (don't be so I haven't read it yet!) In editing this post, I noticed that some words are highlighted and underlined. If you click on them, they take you to sights that neither Steve not I intended. Can't explain why. Blogger is up to something that I will have to check out soon. sorry for any inconvenice with the pop outs.