Saturday, April 30, 2011

One strange call

About a week ago, I was working in my home office when its phone rang. The number wasn't one I recognized, and the caller ID showed only clipped parts of a name that I also did not know. This call was, though, the seventh or eighth I'd received from that same number in the previous few days. Each time, the caller had left no message.

Curiosity got the better of me. I answered the phone.

The caller was a man with a very strong Southern accent. With XX and YY in place of a few names that might give away someone's identity, this is what followed.

Him: Marcus!

Me: You have the wrong number.

Him: Aren't you Marcus XX?

Me: No. You have the wrong number.

Him: Are you sure?

Me: Yes.

Him: (pause) So you're not Marcus XX.

Me: No, I'm not.

Him: Well, I'm looking for him.

Me: Good luck.

Him: You're not him?

Me: No, I'm not.

Him: A good ole boy from YY county? You sure you don't know him?

Me: I don't know him.

Him: Uh-huh. I see. (pause) Well, if you were to see him, would you give him a message for me?

Me: I won't see him. I don't know him.

Him: Yeah. Right. (pause) You're sure you're not Marcus.

Me: Completely sure.

Him: (pause) You're not a tax assessor, are you?

Me: No.

Him: Cuz if you are, I'm just lookin' for him, that's all.

Me: I'm not.

Him: And you're not Marcus?

Me: No, I'm not.

Him: And you don't know him?

Me: Correct.

Him: Well, what should I do now?

Me: I have no idea. I do, though, know what you should not do.

Him: What's that?

Me: Call me again or keep talking to me.

Him: No need to be that way, Marcus.

Me: I'm not Marcus.

Him: And you're not a tax assessor?

Me: No, I'm not.

Him: Okay, well then, I guess I better go.

Me: Yes.

He hung up.

I wondered for a moment why I stayed on the line, but then I had to admit the answer to myself: It was just weird enough that I wanted to see where it would go.

Kinda makes you want to become a tax assessor, doesn't it?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Something to read, something to listen to

For those of you who enjoy reading Sarah's writing, I'm happy to report that she and her friend Kim are doing another yearlong writing project. You can read their work here. Enjoy.

I've been keeping Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers' Glassjaw Boxer CD in heavy rotation lately, and this song really speaks to me. I hope it works for you, too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On the occasion of Scott's last recital

Last night, I had the pleasure and privilege of attending Scott's last high-school recital. When he came on stage and began playing, I was so impressed with his talent and so proud of him that I knew words would never be enough to communicate the intensity of those feelings. I cannot play a single instrument, so the musical skill that he and Sarah demonstrate always blows me away.

Right before the students began, a teacher came on stage and talked about this country music song. I'm not a country music fan and so was not familiar with it, but because of the night and because he mentioned it, I've put it below.

I know I've blinked way too often. I constantly feel that I have failed my children by being gone too much, working too much when I'm here, and generally just not giving them enough of my time. Now, they're moving on, and my failures are all the more painful.

Walking across the campus where Scott and Sarah each spent fourteen years, I couldn't help but think back when I walked Scott into his first day of pre-kindergarten. A small, thin, blond boy, he was unsure and gripped my hand tightly until the teacher skillfully maneuvered him into the activities of the other kids. I'm pretty darn sure that I was more reluctant to let go of his hand than he was of mine. I stood at the door and watched him until the teacher shooed me away. I was proud of him then, and I've grown more proud of him over the years.

It's easy to say that I did my best, but I know that's not true. I rarely achieve my best, rarely manage to give it to anyone or anything that I care about, and I certainly didn't do as good a job of being a dad as I should have. I can only hope that Scott and Sarah know how much I love them and that I didn't screw up the job of fatherhood too badly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another of my favorite TED 2011 talks

This talk just went live, so I wanted to draw your attention to it. It starts slowly, but please give it time; you'll be glad you did. This guy, John Hunter, is doing amazing work with kids, and I wish there were more teachers like him.

Heck, I wish I'd had him as a teacher.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Herons: The best local restaurant

A couple of nights ago, we headed out to Herons to see what Executive Chef Scott Crawford and Chef de Cuisine Steven Greene would do with the area's spring ingredients. I'd arranged for them to create a special tasting menu for us, one that would combine some things from the normal menu and some they would create for this meal. The result, as you can see below, looked awesome.

(As always, click on an image to see a bigger version.)

I'm happy to report that the dishes tasted even better than their descriptions made them sound. Each one combined flavors of spring in fun and amazingly delicious ways. As we finished each course, we remarked that surely they could not sustain this quality level in the next dish--and then they did.

I won't drown you in food porn, but I thought one shot would illustrate the complexity and beauty of the dishes. This course, the first after the amuse, featured peekytoe crab in between compressed pineapple and avocado. Each bite combined richness with sweetness and the fatty overtone that a little bit of avocado provides.

Only the final dessert disappointed us, but after a meal that good, we forgave it.

Another star of the evening was the apricot and goat cheese scone. Each small pastry melded the apricot and goat cheese with the scone in a warm, delicious, rich concoction that we all adored. I could easily have eaten those until I burst.

In past trips to Herons, the service has been unable to keep pace with the food. I'm happy to report that our service was excellent, with only a few very minor missteps. These folks were on the ball and far above all the previous wait staff we've had there.

All in all, I haven't had a meal this good locally since the two amazing tasting menus back at The Mint when Eric Foster and Jeremy Clayman were creating the food there. (They're long gone from that restaurant, and I most definitely no longer recommend The Mint.)

In both food quality and service, Herons now stands alone atop the Triangle food scene.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A new interview online

I met Michael Ventrella at Arisia. We were to do a reading together on the last day of the con, as one of the last programming items. The time slot sucked, but both of us showed up at the appointed time in the appointed room in case anyone wanted to hear us. No one came. Welcome to the glamorous life of the writer.

We did, however, spend a bit of time chatting, and that was fun. Michael has a very active blog in which he interviews a lot of SF writers. He asked if I would do an interview, and I said I'd be happy to. He sent me the questions promptly, not long after the con.

I then sat on them for several months. That was rude of me, and I have already apologized to Michael for doing that--and I'm apologizing again now. Part of the reason for the delay was that his last question stumped me and caused me to think quite a bit before I could answer it. The rest of the delay was due to how busy I am, which is really no excuse at all; I should have hit the deadline I said I would.

To find out what that stumping question was, and to read the rest of the interview, check out his blog here. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Diabolical Mark

For no particular reason, today I decided it was time to change my facial hair.

I do not make such a change lightly. The first time I had to shave was when a school demanded I do so--and I was in fifth grade. By high school, I had to shave at least twice a day to appear at all clean-shaven. I hated shaving.

A week before I left for college, I stopped. I told my mother I was going to grow a beard so I wouldn't have to shave. She told me that I could do what I wanted, but if I expected to come back into her house, I better plan to get rid of the facial hair.

She relented after seeing the beard and deciding she liked it. (I'm pretty sure she would have let me in even if she hadn't.)

Since that day in August, 1973, I've only shaved off my beard a handful of times, each for some odd occasion. In the intervening years, the beard went from so dark a brown that it was almost black, to its current nearly entirely white color.

Today, I decided to try something new. Here's the result. (As always, click on the image to see it much larger.)

The red lighting seemed perfect for this diabolical look, and the slight scowl is simply to enhance the image.

We'll see how long it lasts, but for now, this is the new me.


Blog Archive