During the cold weather, Nita and I decided we would try to exercise together two or three nights a week.  He have Exercise TV on Demand, and had taken to doing a Leslie Sansone walk-at-home workout.  In the beginning, this worked fine for us.  We were fat, and it was demanding enough to make us sweat.

At one point, we stopped sweating during the workout.  Nita decided to kick it up a notch and would check out other workouts when I was out.  She found one from Chris Freytag.  I walked in on this one during a section that had a mambo move.  I said, “That looks like fun.”

This got a vicious grin from Nita.  “Oh, you think so?”

Two nights later, I did Chris Freytag.  (Her workout, I mean.  Get your mind out of the gutter!) Leslie Sansone is a nice lady who put together a reasonable workout.  Chris Freytag is a sadistic killer who is trying to murder me through the television.  Push ups?  Since when do I do pushups during a walking workout?

“So,” said Nita, “still think this is fun?”

I started walking the Little Miami Trail right after the Snowpocalypse ended.

Ebooks And Newspapers

While I don’t believe the printed book is going away anytime soon, I do believe the printed newspaper is pretty much dead.  That said, I suspect the newspaper will find new life in the realm of ebooks.  This is not a bad thing.

The newspaper is a convoluted origami produced by a very messy offset press.  At one point, a thousand had to be printed before one usable paper came out of the press.  They’re hard to read on mass transit and generally end up wrapping fish or going into the recycle bin.  Tabloid-format papers are easier to read, but there’s a reason tabloid has become a dirty word.

But let’s look at the delivery system for Kindle, which resembles the same for Nook and for Sony.  Pay a subscription fee, and the day’s issue is on your reader daily.  With some Sony readers and the new iPad, you’ll have to sync with your computer.  Properly formatted, you can navigate through the paper to all the bits you really want, such as fashi-  I mean, sports.  Yeah.  Sports.  I always check the box scores for the Bengals.

Newspapers flourished for centuries because, in the beginning, it was easy to press a broadsheet onto a large sheet of paper for a penny, easy for linotypists ot put together telegraphed stories and primitively faxed pictures into the daily, and cheap to spin a roll of paper into a day’s run of The New York Times.  But broadsheets and modern papers, which were the most efficient means of delivering news on demand in the pre-Internet days, now are mainly so much litter with day-old news printed on it.  Perhaps the most obvious and least used feature of the electronic format is the ability to produce up-to-the-minute news.  And isn’t that part of the newspaper’s downfall?  Your news, in our 24-hour cable/satellite and instant Internet access world, is a day late and a dollar (at least) short in print?

MTM Cincinnati: The Sky Galley

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Cincinnati’s first airport, Lunken Airfield.  In the main terminal, which is as much a museum as a means of getting to the planes, there is a restaurant that has been in more or less continuous operation since the 1930’s, the Sky Galley.

The Sky Galley is so named because of its origin as the flight commissary for American Airlines when it flew out of Lunken.  Over the years, it’s had several names, the most recent being Wings.

The current Sky Galley has a bar and a spacious dining room.  Clientele tends to be pilots (of course), corporate and charter jet passengers, and golfers from nearby Reeves Golf Course, not to mention a steady stream of bicyclists, hikers, and rollerbladers using the trail circling the airport.

On my first visit, I had the Lunken Cheese Burger, a 1/3 pound pattie, very well done.  My table looked out over the airport runway.  Unfortunately, my camera was not working that day, or I could have taken a fantastic shot of the a Learjet taking off.  The second visit, with Nita, was at a cozy little bar near the entrance.  The atmosphere was quiet both times, but the place is not hurting for business.

In warmer weather, I highly recommend the patio, which abuts the tarmac.  No, not next to the jet hangars.  Those are a quarter-mile away on Wilmer Avenue.  But the small single engine planes are close enough to talk to the pilots as they step out for their pre-flight checks, and one helicopter pad is close enough to the terminal to catch a breeze from a landing chopper.

To get to the restaurant, you have to go through the terminal lobby, which doubles as a museum.  A Depression-era monplane hangs from the ceiling there and displays give the history of the airport, including showing the original path of the Little Miami River, which once flowed through what is now Lunken’s longest runway.

All in all, the Sky Galley is a pleasant way to spend a couple hours, particularly in the summer months.

More at the My Town Monday blog.

Blind Eye By Stuart McBride

In Stuart McBride’s Flesh House, things go horribly south for Logan McRae.  He and Jackie Watson are finished.  A Chief Constable offering him a chance at detective inspector dies before the promotion can go through.  And while McRae’s mentor, Detective Inspector David Insch, survives the events of Flesh House, he is a ruined shell of a man stripped of his career.

So where does McRae find himself now?  Taking abuse from Deputy Chief Inspector Finnie, who seems to have replaced Insch as the perpetually angry and abusive DI.  It turns out, in his own cranky way, Finnie is trying to take McRae under his wing.  They’re chasing down a racist bastard dubbed Oedipus.  Oed’s got a problem with the Polish community in Aberdeen, McRae’s stomping grounds.  And he shows it by gouging out their eyes and burning out the sockets.  Complicating matters, the Poles don’t trust the police.  Before the fall of communism, police were the eyes and ears of the state.  Afterward, they were corrupt and lazy.  The Poles don’t think the Scottish police are any better.

Dumb luck, including an accidental shooting at the beginning, only serve to drive McRae deeper into depression and the doghouse.  By the end of the story, he’s crawled into a bottle of vodka and seems pretty content to stay there.  It’s the darkest McRae novel yet.  Ironic, considering the antagonist this time is not a serial killer who would give Stephen King nightmares.  One wonders if poor Logan will end up in the nuthouse by the end of his next adventure.

I Finished The Novel. Now What?

I’ve had a few writer friends bemoan the end of a novel they’ve written.  Some even claim to get sick at the end for whatever reason.  One writer I know fairly well gets sweats when he has to approach revisions.  Usually, this is at the end of the first draft.  In this day of computer-based writing, an actual draft is more of a vague idea anyway.

So for me, Holland Bay is in the can.  As I worked on the final chapters, I worried that I’d get a bit crazy or depressed when it ended.  Fortunately, it didn’t happen.

It didn’t happen because I planned ahead.  I’m not saying that always works, but in my case, I think it was because I was getting antsy to get back to short stories.  After a long dry spell, I put out four last year, and started dabbling in science fiction.  The novel was holding me up.

The other thing is that I went into Holland Bay knowing it wouldn’t be a quickie.  There was a time I thought I could bang out a draft in three months or less, do a quick revision, and kick it off to my agent.  I think Road Rules spoiled me for that, since it was written extremely fast.  I have yet to repeat that process, and I notice that writing long work in short amounts of time seldom works.  It takes time to think through plot lines, even when they’re outlined.  There are some writers who can do it.  I’m not one of them.

If anything, I’ve been thinking ahead as to how Holland Bay is going to be rearranged.  I thought about the sequel.  (Always start a sequel before you shop.  They don’t give out one-book deals very often, and they’re going to want another book within a year of your debut.)  I thought about what I should read between now and when I pick up revisions this summer.

Also, many writers I’ve known who don’t handle the end of a novel well, either emotionally or physically, since it can be stressful, are not married, or married without children.  Not only do I have a wife and kid now, I’m also going to school, and I’m facing two more overloaded terms at school between now and next summer.  I’ve also become a home owner twice since I started this journey.  My life’s gotten very busy, making me very distracted.

And writers should be distracted by life because no one wants to read about writers sweating over what to write next.

So tell me if this line works for you:  The night was dry but humid…

Hmm…  Probably should work on that.  Holland Bay takes place the week following the Superbowl.

I’m Not Handy. My Wife Is.

When Nita gets an idea, she goes all out.  Last year, when I sat stuck in the recliner recovering from wisdom tooth surgery, she completely redid the landscaping in front of the house.  On Father’s Day, when I was out hiking the Little Miami Trail (unlike a certain philandering governor who said the same thing that weekend), she painted the living room.  This year, she redid the floor in the kitchen.  Did I help?

Generally, unless it’s painting, I stay the hell out of the way.

So, you ask, what are you doing while your wife suffers and toils?

Glad you asked.  I have a to-do list as well.  Each weekend, I have a different task setup to work on for the house.  Last weekend, I decided I was going to replace the old towel racks in the bathroom, rehang a door, and clean fourteen years of corner crud off the bathroom floor.

I succeeded on the bathroom floor.

What I discovered was that bathroom fixtures don’t normally come with flat backs.  You have to drill holes in the wall and screw them in.  Yes, I went on the Internet and learned that Mighty Putty does work as Billy Mays screamed it would.  However, when the towel rack holders are hollow, it doesn’t matter that Billy dragged a semi with the stuff.  If there’s nothing back there to put the stuff on, it ain’t going on the wall.

“So just drill a hole, Jim.”

Er…  That doesn’t normally work on ceramic tile.

And I forgot to get new bolts for the door hinge.  Meanwhile, Nita painted the old wall tiles in the kitchen and redid the cabinets.  I seldom have felt emasculated around my wife.  I can honestly say Lowes, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart combined to do the job instead.

This past weekend, I did a little better.  I replaced a shower curtain with the right length this time and recaulked the bathtub again.  Next week, we try the door again.

So why is my wife running circles around me in home improvement?  Her starter spouse was not handy.  (Just sayin’) So Nita had to pick up the slack.  When she found herself single, she just took over what she wasn’t already doing.

During that era of her life and mine, I lived in apartments.  Home improvement was someone else’s problem.  At least until my starter spouse and I first chucked a parasitic roommate, then moved to an honest-to-God house of our own.  I did pick up a few skills after moving to my first house.  I learned how to paint really fast.  I strung coax cable through an upstairs hallway between bedrooms.

This summer, I plan to rip out some sod, build some bookshelves in the office, and repaint the garage.  So I’m not completely useless.


Hey! Nice Kindle!

Ever since I bought my Kindle a few weeks ago, I’ve been getting a lot of attention.  It started on the bus.

“Oooh, is that the Kindle?” a lady asked.  I replied that it was.  “How does that work?”

I explained how you paid Amazon for a book, and they transmitted it directly to your Kindle.  You had the book in a minute.  She asked if I could check the bus schedule, which, unfortunately, I could not.  I explained it was an ebook reader, not an iPhone.  I also said the next generation of these devices will probably work like smart phones.

On the bus, people wanted to see what it was I was reading.  I had to be evasive.  Half the riders were black.  This is normally not an issue.  Unfortunately, I was reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Most people accept that this book is written in language offensive even to its author.  However, if you happen to be on the receiving end one of the slurs that appear throughout the book, it’s not likely you’re going to give me a chance to say, “Hey, wait.  It’s Mark Twain.”  Naturally, I was a bit more relaxed the following week when I read Victor Gischler’s Vampire A Go-Go.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that people appear surprised when I’m reading a print book.  The same lady who asked me about the Kindle at the bus stop was surprised when I had a copy of Stuart McBride’s Blind Eye tucked under my arm.  “A printed book?  But you have a Kindle.”

Yes, and I still buy print books.  What criteria do I use to decide between printed and electronic formats?

My mood.

That’s it.  Books are largely an impulse buy, and any attempt to apply logic to the process is doomed to failure.  I will say I have to be careful not to load myself down with books on Kindle.  There are still books I brought home from the 2004 Bouchercon that I haven’t read yet.

My boss also seemed surprised I read textbooks in print.  I had to explain that not everything is available on Kindle, and I have to buy the textbooks they tell me to at school.

I suspect the cool factor won’t last much longer.  The iPad will be out in a couple of weeks.  Then people will ask me why I don’t own one.  (Um…  I just bought the Kindle?)

MTM Cincinnati: Giant Jesus Update

OK, I lied.  I’ll do the Sky Galley next week.   Hopefully, I can get a decent sunny day where I can get a photograph out the window at the airport.

But let’s talk about our old pal, Giant Jesus on I-75.

That shot was taken last fall as Nita and I drove up to Tipp City, Ohio, to see AJ’s high school marching band in competition.  Even then, the big guy was showing some signs of wear and tear.  Well, kids, even statues at the side of the road sometimes need to… um…  have work done.

This was a particularly rough winter in southeast Ohio.  We had actual snowfall.  Lots of it.  Not East Coast Snowpocalypse amounts, but for an area that usually just waits a day or so for it to blow over, we spent a lot of time at home this past February.

Giant Jesus didn’t get a day off.  So Solid Rock Church, which commissioned the statue, is giving it a paint job, maybe some protective coating.

“The deterioration is a little bit noticeable when you get up close,””The deterioration is a little bit noticeable when you get up close,” says Pastor Lawrence Bishop.  So they’ll be starting work on getting him back into shape.

Just in time to wave to Greater Cincinnati OSU football fans on their way to the Michigan game.

More at the My Town Monday blog.

Review: Vampire A Go Go By Victor Gischler

Allen Cabot is a man who is almost not present in his own life.  Nonetheless, he is tapped by the cantankerous Professor Evergreen to spend the summer with him in Prague to research a paper on Kafka.  However, he is kidnapped first by several punk wizards, then by machine gun-toting Jesuits, all trying to prevent Evergreen from getting what he’s really after:  The philosopher’s stone.  Yes, the famous holy grail of alchemists rumored to turn lead into gold is somewhere in Prague, only it isn’t for transmuting lead.  It’s the secret of eternal life, and a few hundred years earlier, it was the pet project of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, who was a bit of a whack job.  Just ask the story’s sometime narrator, Edward Kelly.

Oh, did I mention Kelly died of radiation poisoning about 500 years ago?  Yeah, but he’s still very much involved in the story.

Vampire a Go Go is full of Gischler’s trademark smart-ass prose.  It’s a little more disjointed than his crime fiction, partly because it flips back and forth between 1598 and the present.  However, it has that same gonzo vibe that made Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse work so well.  Time for Vic to stick his finger in the eye of Star Trek.

Just as long as he doesn’t give quit the same finger Edward Kelly gave back in 1601.