It was Pi Day in school. Daughter did not have pie. Other kids did. From the sound of things, kids in other classes got their own entire pie, and spent the entire day talking about the delicious exotic pie - Oreo crumble crust! French silk! - while she could only contemplate the Pies Not Sampled. Was actually disconsolate about it when she came home, feeling left out, and I gave her the standard parental lecture: if that’s the worst thing that happened today, you’re doing fine. Measure life not by the pies not eaten, but the . . . the future pies to come, or something. Anyway, buck up.

Let that sit for half an hour, then said hey, let’s go to the grocery store. Let’s get some pie! She said noooo, you don’t have to just because, don’t feel obligated. But I thought pie would be a great idea, and it would be fun, let’s go. So we went.

They didn’t have any pie. Well, no pie that she wanted. A mashed-up piece of blueberry and a wrecked piece of apple. Let’s go to Lund’s, then!

Nooo, we don’t have to! You really don’t!

Ah, it’ll be fun. Let’s go. So we went. I was trying to make it a lark, trying to snap her out of her funk, but it was useless. And the pies at Lunds were no better. You know why? BECAUSE IT WAS PIE DAY, and everyone had bought up the pies. Well, let’s check frozen; we can speed defrost something. By now she’s getting really unhappy, which I can’t figure out - and I’m started to get irritated. Look, kid, I’m trying to get you a blankety-blank piece of pie, the least you could do would be to pretend a smile of gratitude, however fleeting.

But stupid me. It wasn’t about the pie. It was about being left out. No amount of post-school parentally administered pie could plug that hole. My attempt at consolation pie was a failure, but when my wife suggested they take a walk around the lake and go for pie at Lowbrow's, girl's night out, that was aces. Of course I was invited, but I let them go. Pie realignment needed someone untainted by my obtuse attempts at pastry rectification. Besides, someone had to walk the dog.

Slow slog. He took it easy. Sniffed at everything. Didn't mind when I cut right early, sensing he wasn't up for a long jaunt. When we got home he stopped on the back steps, looking down the hill to the children playing - I could tell he saw them, but he didn't know what they were. In the dusk of his days, everything has become a shadow.

Oh, by the way: Seen in the parking lot.



I’m wearing a light jacket, but I’m here: in the gazebo, in the evening. I put the roof back up today; the lights are on. It feels like early May.

Of course, it’s not, but we’re all so ready to be fooled, so eager to believe. The paper today had a story warning people not to garden. Whew: here I was all set to put in the perennials, or the annuals, or the biennials, or whatever. Actually I was ready to seed, since the lawn is in bad shape. Why? My lawn service. Or rather my old one. They used huge mowers to do the hill, and chewed it up. I considered buying a lawn-tractor the other day, because I really want one - that Oliver Douglas sense of pride, bouncing in the seat, land-spreadin’-out-so-far-and-wide, but the thing would tip over on the hill. I can just imagine hopping off in panic and watching nine hundred dollars roll and bounce and bounce higher and take out a couple of pedestrians and smack a car. Yes.

I don’t know what I have here today, because A) I have a column to write, and B) I am written out for the week, I think. Did some writing for places elsewhere - wrote about the suggestion by some Italian busybody bother-group that the Divine Comedy should be banned for incorrect sentiments about gays, Jews, and Mohammed, but it’s paywalled. Bottom line: the group is irrelevant and the sentiment abhorrent, but expect more. It’s not enough to change current attitudes - expressions from previous eras must be extirpated as well. Every Utopia requires that the previous cultures be erased. You have to eliminate the reference points. That was the beauty of Newspeak: without the words to express the ideas, the ideas perish. Without the examples of things people were free to read, the definition of freedom is constricted. And so on.

Last night I tackled the big climactic scene (as opposed to the small, intimate climatic scene, I guess) of the 3rd novel, or the 5th if you consider the whole series, and I did it. All 3,700 words. Took two hours. It’s exhausting. It’s exciting: it’s all happening as you write it, and you find yourself typing as fast as you can to keep up with the scene unfolding in your head. I’ve known for months how the scene would end, and I mean precisely where and why, because its the image that wraps up the entire 1947- 2009 arc, but how to get there, who should be present, and how does the hero escape?

Little things.

For a while I thought: it’ll be this guy doing this thing and making this speech, which is great because it shows how his character has grown. But he got shot a few chapters before, something I had no intention of doing. It just happened. Everyone was as surprised as I was. Then I realized how I could get the main character to the place where everything would happen, but getting him out to safety was a problem. This was solved only by writing the scene. In retrospect it’s perfection; it’s planted throughout the book; it mirrors the opening chapter.

Two hours with the loud playlist playing on the iPod. Exhausted and exhilarated when it was done. Couldn’t sleep. Peeked at it today, hoping it wasn’t too bad. It’s probably as good as I can make it. That’s why I don’t dread the revision process: I’m a one-take guy.

Here’s the fun of writing a series out of sequence: in the course of writing “Morocco Alley,” I discovered at least three things that happened in two books I haven’t written yet. There are two chapters left: Aftermath and Coda. The entirety of "Aftermath" stems from this: a reporter shot in the first chapter had a picture of a dog on his desk, which ended up shaping the end of the entire story. You just never know.

In case you’re curious how this all rolls out: I should have the first novel in the Apple Bookstore by June. That’s the plan. Also for Kindle. As soon as I revise the first two I’m turning right around to write #3 and #4. If I’m hit by a bus the novels I’ve written so far will hang together, but I want to flesh out the story before it reaches the end I wrote last night.

Okay, off to the column now; there's the start of the Spicy section in the 20s site today. Racy mags from the Jazz Age. It's HERE. Note: Probablys safe for work, inasmuch as any tiny bits of nudity are ancient, and hence probably okay, but if you have any doubts about whether you'll land in trouble, don't.














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