The Faultline to Watch

The State Legislature just passed a law written specifically to try to force Vanderbilt to do what the Legislature wants. Vanderbilt is the largest employer in Middle Tennessee. They have the best trauma unit in the area. And their Board of Trustees just met and declined to force the University to do what the Legislature wanted. It’s nickname has been, for as long as I’ve lived here, the 800-lb. gorilla. Oh, and did I mention that the Trustees read like a Who’s-Who of conservative moneyed types?

I have no doubt that the Republicans will remain in power for a while. But as of tonight, I now have deep doubts as to whether these Republicans will or if the fiscal conservative money will start flowing to challengers to the social conservatives.

This will be the fight to watch. Because we had just been talking picking on poor people and women. Now we’re talking about money and people who can’t even explain what their bills do trying to tell people with money what to do.

it’s a perfect storm of all of Tennessee’s terrible, albeit charming, weaknesses. We have conservative politicians who don’t trust universities because they think they’re full of godless hippies–failing completely to understand just how traditionally conservative a place like Vanderbilt is. You have smart, well-educated conservatives who will be appalled at the notion that people so stupid and hick-y would dare tell them what to do. You have people like Ron Ramsey who have a chip on their shoulder about schools “better” than the one he went to. And you have conservative business people who are now nervous that the state legislature might find all kinds of conduct of theirs worth… let’s not call it “legislating.” Let’s call it “advising them to get out of the pickle they’re in.”

That is a powder keg. And I’m not sure how it’s going to explode. Haslam hasn’t vetoed anything, but he’s never faced a bill that so clearly had implications for the types of people who fund re-election campaigns.

If he does veto it, that will tell us something.

If he doesn’t veto it, that will tell us something else.

Plus, I forgot to see what happened with the PAC legislation this afternoon, but if they’ve taken the limit off of donations, and then passed this legislation… oh, ho ho ho ho. I know it makes me a bad liberal, but I love the unlimited PACs. Look at what Gingrich and Santorum were able to do to Romney. And now imagine the walking-around money that the TNGOP just pissed off.

I could be wrong, but I think we’re about to see a social conservative/fiscal conservative civil war.

Also, I think this gives you a hint of how precarious Beth Harwell’s position is. This kind of anti-university vitriol splashes on her.

M&M Fighting Rings

I’ve been quite busy this morning, but I have to confess that I’ve been keeping myself amused by imagining an illegal M&M fighting ring, where men would come from all over the state to fight their M&Ms and eat the losers.

I just learned that Alex Bledsoe has a bunch of books about vampires set in Memphis.

You know, I had been wondering where was all the Tennessee fantastical fiction, but maybe the better question to ask is, if it’s out there, how do we learn of it?

Can a Cardinal be Orange?

I saw a bird today on our walk that looked like a juvenile cardinal, in fact, I’m fairly sure it was a juvenile cardinal. But it caught my eye because where it should have been read, it was bright orange, not like an orange, orange, but like a deep bright pumpkin orange.

I wonder if he’ll stay that way or if he’ll turn red as he gets older.

M&M Wars

Today I learned something so charming about the Butcher that I had to come tell you about it. I should warn you that it is so charming that it made me realize that, if I weren’t related to the Butcher, I would have to search him out to befriend him.

So, we’re sitting here on the couch watching cartoons, eating M&Ms when the Butcher says “Yellow is kicking ass.”

I say, “What?”

And the Butcher says, “Before I eat any M&M, I fight it against another M&M and whichever one cracks first, gets eaten. This yellow has lasted six rounds. That’s great for an M&M.”

Oh my god! He fights his M&Ms! I’ve know him thirty and a half years and I never knew that, but I find it so awesome and hilarious.

Two Books

I tried Swamplandia! again and just decided that it wasn’t for me. Is this a trick of being a grown-up? Even books you can see are good, if you don’t like them, you just move on.

Anyway, I read two good ones yesterday (obviously, they’re quick reads), that I heard about on the SciFi Squeecast.

1. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord, which is just a beautiful contemporary fairytale about a woman who gets the power of chaos. I especially love it because Lord has a narrative strategy that I’ve often adopted and found it really engaging, myself, but then chickened out when revising. And yet, Lord just wields it so expertly that I feel like maybe the problem is not that it’s not a good strategy, but that I’m a chickenshit.

2. The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe, a fantasy novel about an Iraq War veteran who comes home to East Tennessee and has to tell her family, a ghost, and the rest of her clan to fuck off.  I looked online and I don’t see any reviews of this except at Chapter 16 for a book by a guy who was born and raised in Tennessee and wrote a book set in a thinly-veiled East Tennessee (it’s funny, Johnson City gets to be Johnson City but Rugby is Cricket), which is a shame, because it’s really wonderful. I’m not really into stories about the supernatural beings featured in this book, but apparently my desire–which I didn’t even know I had–to read really good stories about Tennessee overcomes my desire to not read stories about these supernatural beings.

Anyway, I liked them both.

Gardening, Even Though I’m Not Gardening This Year

First, I promised strawberries to Lesley and they’re all gone. Just gone. Some fucking fucker animal is happy to apparently eat unripened berries. I need to remember to tell her that my promise has been made a lie by, I presume, squirrels.

Second, I think the grackles have nested in the purple martin house. When I was gardening, I heard quite a ruckus. The kids stay quiet until someone comes home with food and then it’s all “Oh, I’m starving half to death, feed me!”

Third, the mockingbirds continue to be either pissed or neighborly, I can’t really tell. They squawked at me when I came out.

Fourth, okay, so in the sunny end of the big bed, I put lupine, poppies, and some pink daisies of some sort. I would just like to say “fuck poppies.” Well, not poppies themselves. But seriously. You pay two bucks for seeds and there’s like twenty four tiny seeds in the envelope and they mostly stick to the envelope so you can’t really get them where you want. At this point, I’m just hoping to get a few up and maybe they’ll spread? Plus, motherfucking Lowe’s didn’t have red poppies.

Over on the dark side, I put in some lily-of-the-vallies, which were on-sale. I am literally the worst lily-of-the-valley grower, but my god, this would be a perfect spot for them.

There’s so much weeding to do, but I am slow at it this year.


A Few Facts about Tennessee

Fact: The Republicans control both branches of the legislature.

Fact: We have a Republican governor.

Fact: They still act like the Democrats are pushing them around.

Fact: Anyone who would cut funding for hospitals and then shows up for church on Sunday is probably going to be surprised when he finally meets Jesus.

Fact: They can blame Democrats all they want, but the truth is that the Republican caucuses are fracturing and leaders can’t keep their people in line.

I Now Get Why There’s No Pulitzer for Fiction this Year

Here’s how thing stand. Train Dreams was originally published in 2003.The Pale Kingis not the actual novel the author would have published had he lived to finish it. Neither one of those should win for those reasons.

Which leaves Swamplandia which I think I’m about to return to the library unfinished. This should be a book I would love–quirky characters, a girl with ghosts for boyfriends, a really engaging main character, and the story seems like it might eventually be interesting. But each sentence is just too laboriously perfect. Things aren’t just “red,” they’re “ruby.” You know what I mean? You can’t ever not notice how much work the writer has put into every single word. It takes so long to read each sentence that the experience is like looking at someone else’s vacation photos, feeling like you’re not going to be allowed to move to the next one until you’ve really appreciated how beautiful this photo is. And each sentence is beautiful, don’t get me wrong.

But for me, all the beautiful hand-crafted sentences are keeping me out of the story instead of letting me sink into it. And I can’t quite figure out why or how the strength of the writing of the sentences is undermining the strength of the telling of the story, but it is.

I think you could make a good argument for this book being so well-crafted that, of course, it should have won when the other two nominees clearly shouldn’t have. But, if I had been the person making the final call, I’m not sure this is a book I could have said “Yep, best book in the country this year,” about because it seems like it doesn’t work. Even if I would feel very confident in saying that it’s an amazing achievement in writing.

So, I would have been fine with it if it won, but I completely get why it didn’t.

Forget a Yard Physicist. I Need a Yard Scientist.

With the dog sickness and the draft completing, I forgot to tell you all the strangest thing. I had visitors yesterday. My front yard neighbors. The dog was out in the yard, pooping, of course and the orange cat was lounging on the front porch and over came the two mocking birds that live in the front yard. One sat on the porch railing right by the cat and tweeted angrily at the cat and then the other came up to the door, where I was standing, and tweeted at me.

I know they’re just birds and that one shouldn’t anthropomorphize too much.

But I swear, it was as if they’d come to the door to complain about the cat. Who, I will note, they also weren’t that afraid of, since one was on the ground not 4 feet from him and the other was hectoring him from the railing right above him.

And this blows my mind. I mean, hell, maybe they weren’t complaining. I don’t know. But I am a mammal. A big old clumsy ape. They are tiny birds. They have bodies that do things mine never will. I do things they never will. And yet, they, who are supposedly the bigger idiots, stopped by to tell me something about the cat. A complaint might be reading too much into it. But definitely they were saying “we have an opinion about this animal right here and we want you to know it.”

Just at the level of that, of me trying to not read anything into what their opinion of the cat might be (though I think we have to guess, considering he’s the one who brought a bird into the house, that it’s not good), we have two birds working together. Two birds who acted with enough forethought to watch for me to show up at the front door so that they could address an ongoing concern. And two birds who are somehow able to understand that this animal (me) has an effect on the behavior of that animal (the cat) and I might influence the cat in some fashion.

That seems like a lot for a bird to put together. And yet, I don’t know how else to explain it.


Flowerdy Things


Jim Morrison Couldn’t Ponder The End More than Me

Oh, in all my grouchiness, I forgot to tell you how it ended up. You know my prediction was it would come in at 15,000 words. Actual word count was just over 18,000, putting the whole thing at about 82,000 words, give or take.

Right now, it ends like this (note, it’s not all in second person, but, in keeping with the working title–Remind Me of the Dreaming Dead–I want to make reading the book feel kind of like having a strange dream, so I’ve been trying to move the reader around in dreamlike ways. This is the point where you move into Sue.) :

He finds you asleep in a cedar glade, purple flowers polkadotting the sunny spots around you. He sits next to you there, mirroring the arrangement in our world, and he begins to tell you a story.

What is the story that the living can tell the dead to bring them back?

I don’t know. He leans in close to you and tells it so softly I cannot make it out. But it must be something different than the stories we tell now aimed to resurrect lost times, lost people, lost causes.

And whatever it is, I note that you don’t tell it to him in 1910.

Perhaps it’s because the ending is sadder than you expect.

It’s hard to tell you how writing something like that feels. It might not end up being the right thing for the book. There are a lot of revisions ahead. And I might change my mind about how well it works. But right now, it feels really good. Like I wrote something better than I thought I could.

The Mystery of the Dog

She appears to be fine, except for the poop I found on the kitchen floor. Her eyes are a little glassy from the Benadryl and she’s definitely acting a little stoned, but otherwise, appears to be fine. I will wait here for the next round of needing to go to the bathroom.

If You See Me Coming, Better Step Aside. A Lot of Men Didn’t and a Lot of Men Died.

Finally, finally, I was getting a good night’s sleep when the damn dog got diarrhea. I’m not even shitting you. Um… yeah, I should delete that and make another word choice, but I’m leaving it as a testament to my state of mind. Up at 4, up at 5, up at 6.

And I have a headache, because of the stupid weather.

Plus, I’ve decided that I’m pissed at the bike lanes. Honestly, fuck the bike lanes on Clarksville Highway. When was the last time you ever saw a bike rider on Clarksville Highway? Never. They ride Old Hickory Boulevard and, until motorists started running them down, Buena Vista. Why don’t we put bike lanes where the bike riders ride?

Plus, the bike lanes go from Briley to the top of the ridge. Through only residential. People who ride for fun aren’t going to use our bike lanes yet, because they don’t connect to anything.  And residents aren’t going to use them for bike riding, because they don’t go anywhere. If you want to ride your bike to the pharmacy or the store, there’s going to be a stretch without bike lanes.

But people are using the bike lanes. To walk or jog in. So, obviously, what we needed were sidewalks. And, yes, I get that sidewalks are more expensive than bike lanes, but it irks me that they gave us bike lanes having to know–if they’d done any kind of reconnaissance–that we have more walkers and joggers than bicyclists. So, now we have a situation where the pedestrians still don’t have an optimally safe way to get up and down Clarksville Pike, because it’s so close to traffic and we need to share that tiny lane with any bicyclists we might get, and bicyclists don’t have an honest to god bike lane because all the pedestrians are like “Finally! A slightly safer way to walk around the neighborhood.”

And yet, this is a “victory” for a “healthy Nashville”! It’s like Mrs. Wigglebottom being all “But I got you up instead of just shitting on the floor!”

Yes, but…

Plus, whenever the firefighters get around to smooching me, they have to park in the driveway because heaven forbid they block the precious bike lanes and those trucks are heavy. And they have to take the trucks wherever they go when they’re on duty, in case there’s a fire. And they can’t come by here when they’re not on duty because the giant pants are the whole point. And did the city or TDOT or whomever run a new surface of asphalt down my driveway to accommodate the firetrucks now that they can’t park out front?

No. No they did not.

But the nice thing was that Tony’s opens at motherfucking six in the morning. I swear, Tony of Tony’s Foodland, I don’t know who you are and it would suck to be your employee because you open at motherfucking six in the morning and you’re open for a little bit on all major holidays. But my god, this morning, when I needed Pepto for the dog at six in the fucking morning, and I drove up there and you were open, I could have made out with every single one of your employees. I wanted to weep in the checkout line.

God bless Tony of Tony’s Foodland. I pray that someday the bike lanes go clear to your store.

Grr. Sleep.

So, the past three days have gone like this. Wake up twenty minutes before my alarm, with incredible vim and vigor, which I assume have been mostly unused since the 1930s, walk the dog, go about my morning, get in the car, go to work, be really productive until about a half an hour before lunch, get tired, eat, perk back up, and then, after a short amount of time, just get so tired, so very, very tired, so so so tired, drive home tired, fantasize about taking a nap when I get home, get home, let the dog out, eat, and feel full of energy and vim and vigor. Go to bed way later than usual. Rinse, repeat.

It is as if my body would like to sleep in two chunks, one in the middle of the day and one in the middle of the night.

But I’m resisting.

My First Celebrity Sighting!

I never recognize famous people or I recognize them too late.

I’ve lived here since ’99 and I have never, without the Butcher’s help, recognized a celebrity in the wild.

But today! Today I just saw Cowboy Jack Clement at Noshville. He was looking for pickles. And then he ate.

Possibly it’s not that exciting for you, but I am thrilled.

All But One Part

No one is ever going to publish this book. I know that now. I’m saying it up front so that when the delusion that I should send it out sets in, I can look back and see that I already knew this. It’s weird. It’s preachy. It’s weird. Did I say that?

But my god, at least it will be the story I want to tell.

I think I have a Nathan-Bedford-Forrest-ex-machina. I don’t know what to tell you about that. But at least the rhythm of the end finally feels right. I finished writing the big dramatic confrontation and I felt a rush and a let-down when it was over. So, it finally feels like a climax, I think.

I’m going to have to go back and wrestle some with of the tone, but it’s second-draftable, finally.

Just one little bit more.

My brain is pretty much mush though. Mushy, mush, mush, mush.

Yeah, No

So, yeah, this happened today.

In case you missed it, that’s

“We can’t continue to legislate everything. We’ve had some horrible things happen in America and in our state, and there’s children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them. They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.”

I honestly can’t make myself understand this. I read it and I read it and I think that this is a person, like me, who has friends and family members and yet this would come out of his face. Children in this state have come out, been bullied about it–some have even been kicked out of their homes–and their lives have gone so wrong and so many people have failed to come to their aid that they literally think that they have no better option than to kill themselves.

And one of our state legislators is literally like “eh, not our problem.” Like there are just some kids we can’t be bothered to worry that much about. If they die, they die.

And the worst part? I swear to god, this is the part that just fucking undoes me. This is his apology:

“After reviewing my comments on the House Floor today, I regret what was a poor choice of words. My true intent was to protect children from becoming criminals. Suicide has touched my family, and I would never want a parent or family member to feel they were responsible for such an unimaginable tragedy.”

Suicide has touched his family and he still said those thing. I don’t know. I couldn’t understand it before, but knowing that, it just… I don’t know… is there a level beyond failing to understand? It’s like I can’t even recognize these words and actions as that of another person.

Who talks this way? Who talks this way when they personally know what it’s like to lose someone to suicide?

I get blaming the person who commits suicide. I get being angry at them. Those are feelings that I recognize, feelings I’ve had myself, even if I know they’re misguided.

But to blame their parents? It just baffles me in a way that hurts my heart.

Those losses matter. But the truth is that I really don’t think Faison thinks they do.

There are discussions to be had about anti-bullying legislation. Fine. But why shouldn’t it be illegal, on its own, no matter what the outcome, for a kid to harass another kid? It’s illegal among adults. Why shouldn’t it be illegal for a kid to stalk another kid? It’s illegal among adults.  Why can’t the things bullies do be crimes if the bullies are under 18? They don’t have to carry as sever a penalty, but my god, clearly, if you’re harassing a kid because of his real or perceived sexual orientation, you do need some kind of intervention in your life and your victim deserves to be protected from you.

Is it because “good” kids have gotten your message that gay people suck so we wouldn’t want them to have any “undue” bad consequences for enforcing the social order you wish existed?

Is that it? Is this about protecting the kids who carry out the fucking evil bullshit on gay kids or kids who are perceived as gay that you wish were legal to carry out on gay people across the board?

I think it is, and that makes me weep with rage.


Harvard University Library Slaps Its Glove in the Face of High Journal Prices

This is probably the most interesting story to come out of university libraries in some time. I applaud Harvard for suggesting it, because it will take a place like Harvard to pull it off. Faculty at Harvard have, for all practical purposes, made it. They don’t need to keep publishing at the most prestigious journals in order to advance and maybe get hired by a place like Harvard because here they are.

And, if they decided that publishing with smaller, less-expensive journals or publishing with some kind of open-source thingy is more prestigious than not, other scholars will follow suit.

This has been an enormous problem not only for libraries, but also in the university press world. If the cost of journals rises so quickly and eats up more and more of a more and more limited budget, it means university presses sell fewer books, because libraries don’t have the budget for them.

It’s nice to see someone pointing out to scholars what they can do to help university institutions like libraries and presses survive.

It Was the Best of Hazelnuts, It Was the Not-so-best of Hazelnuts

Behold my hazelnut trees! Look upon them and despair! Or cheer. Or just look upon them quietly so as to not startle them. Goofus is still not doing much of anything.

If you look closely, you can see that it still has buds and that those buds appear to be tipped with green. I’m taking that as a sign of life, but in all honesty, I’m not sure if those buds are actually bigger than they were last week or if I’m just wishful-thinking. No, I never did go get mulch. I’m not proud of that.

Gallant has leaves now, tiny delicate leaves. They look almost like insect wings. Gallant is all “I am practicing my baby photosynthesizing!” Keep going, Gallant! You will like photosynthesizing, once you get used to it!

Leaves feel like such a good sign. I will feel better about Goofus once he gets some.

The Best Story Out of Nashville Right Now

I’m sharing this with y’all even though I’m sure all my local readers are following this as raptly as I am, because I don’t want my non-local readers to miss out on the most amusing Nashville story of the year.

It started this weekend with the discovery of a mysterious abandoned plane out at the old Cornelia Fort airport, which has not been operational since the flood and has, in fact, been turned over to Metro Parks. Then, there was a quaint story in The Tennessean about this charming old guy who crashed his plane but, thank Jesus, was saved.

They’ve since changed the story, but you can get a feel for the approach the writer took in the lead Jim Ridley preserved on this post.

And why did they have to change the story? Because the charming old coot at the center of it is a convicted drug smuggler. And not some minor drug smuggler, either. Plus, he’s the kind of drug smuggler who brags about it on his LinkedIn page. But, while The Tennessean was running its story about the eccentric character who left his plane in the park, The City Paper was all over the “convicted drug smuggler without proper medical clearance and without other necessary paperwork flies from Miami and lands his plane so softly in Nashville that it didn’t even signal a crash. Isn’t that odd?” aspect of the story.

So this was rather embarrassing to The Tennessean, since they’d failed to Google the dude or even hear “flight from Miami” and “mysteriously abandoned plane in an abandoned airport” and made the obvious connection. Today they have a pretty thorough update to their original story.

But damn, they got pwnd (as the kids say) by The City Paper. I suspect it’s because Gannett has so gutted the newsroom over there that there just isn’t any institutional memory where someone says “Russell Brothers? Why do I know that name?”

I mean, I see that just with the Maytown story (which is hopefully dead), but everyone who reported on the lawsuits (actual reporting, not blogging) was not with their respective papers when the story first came out. So, the whole back history and who was related to whom and why just wasn’t in the back of their minds.

This airplane story is hilarious and interesting, but that it played out on the pages of The Tennessean how it did is a chilling reminder of what we’ve lost in the newsroom upheavals of the last decade.

But also, someone needs to make a movie about this dude. I don’t know what he looks like in real life, but I’m already imagining Tommy Lee Jones in the lead role.

Am I Psychic?! And, My God, If So, Why Don’t I Ever Have a Vision of Firemen Smooching Me?!

Remember when I said, “A firefighting uniform has got to be the sexiest uniform in existence, followed in close second by a baseball uniform. I don’t know why, it’s just true. Seriously, if those dudes at the end had been all ‘Hold my kitten, my adorable kitten, while I take my coat off’ I would have died.”

Remember when rheather was all “My commercial before the last dance featured a fireman and a kitten. Google trolling or coincidence?”

Well, grandfille sent me a link to the commercial which, while not as hot as Captain Morgan, does indeed feature a fireman in his sexy uniform, making trashy margaritas and holding a kitten!

Firemen, I am available on most Sunday afternoons for smooching out in the hammocks. Please call ahead and park your trucks in the driveway, so that we don’t block the new bike lanes on the road out front.

The New Fright Night

We watched it last night with the Red-Headed Kid, who hadn’t seen the original or its sequel. How he could have worked in a video store for nine thousand years and missed the Fright Night movies, I just don’t know. I didn’t have the heart to ask him if he’d seen The Lost Boys.

That would have made me feel way old if he hadn’t.

Anyway, the Butcher and I love the Fright Night movies and probably watched them a hundred times when we were young. So, we were nervous about the remake. Would it have the right mix of genuine humor and horror?

And it did!!!

It was awesome. Plus, like Super 8, the parent–Toni Collette, who looks throughout the whole movie, like she’s just having a blast–doesn’t suck and isn’t just ignoring her kid or oblivious to the fact that there’s something wrong. The part where Jerry comes over to talk to her about how her son’s been harassing her and her son begs her not to talk to him and she finally tells him to go to the authorities then is just not the kind of thing that would have happened in horror movies (or scary movies, like this, which is not quite a horror movie) back when I was young.

I think it’s interesting that the kids in those horror movies have grown up to be different kinds of parents than the parents they had in those horror movies.

I mean, it makes me wonder about the whole “Parents just don’t understand” phenomenon. I mean, it was a joke, but it was also a real source of anxiety for us, obviously, considering how much of our popular culture told stories about parents who side with other adults over us.

And now, we’re seeing another type of parent in the horror movie–still sometimes clueless, but honestly on the child’s side.

Do we believe something different about ourselves as parents than our parents did about themselves as parents–since it’s always adults who make the movies? Or was that trope, in the end, too horrible for us to keep using?

I don’t know.

I just thought it’s interesting to see the shift. And welcome.

The Ending Problem

When I write, which is not every day (I mean, I write here every day or pretty dang close, but fiction) I try to write in roughly 2,000 word chunks. I stole that from John Scalzi and he’s right, it is a nice chunk.

Now that I know how the first draft needs to end–after two different endings that have pieces I want, but not the arc I want–it’s pretty much all I can really think about doing–just getting this damn first draft done, getting the shitty version that is the right shape down.

Yesterday, though, I realized the scope of the problem.

The book up until the end is about 64,000 words. I have been writing and rewriting an ending that is about 12,000 words in length, more or less, depending on which version. My current version of the ending is just over 10,000 words and is probably about 2/3 done. And yet, I’ve been trying to crank out what will be a roughly 15,000 word draft in… well… since I figured out how it had to end which feels like it was a long time ago but was, holy shit, less than three days ago.

No wonder I am a frazzled delirious mess. I did learn two things that might be of interest to you–one is that apparently Joel Chandler Harris had a version of the Three Little Pigs, that, if my internet research is correct, is the first printed version of the tale to have a sing-song rhyme, though not “little pig, little pig, let me in.”  Fortunately this means that Sarah can quote from it when she and Sue knock on Lee’s door.

The other is that there exists such a thing as a church grim, which is the spirit of a dog that guards church cemeteries. William/the Thing claims to be one, but I’m thinking he (and The Thing) in real life are more obviously a Barghest, since a barghest isn’t exactly a dog. The thing I wonder about church grims though is the name. Grimm is a nickname of Odin’s. And it wouldn’t be surprising to find him as a sacrifice in any legend. How Scandinavia became Christian was always strange. For a long while, heathens called Thor “The Red Christ” and wore Thor’s Hammer charms around their necks like the Christians wore crosses, to indicate that Thor was their savior. Would it be so strange for early Norse Christians to assume that church graveyards would still need Odin or someone in his stead to guard them?

I’m also struggling with whether to include a list of characters or if that starts to seem cruel with so many characters sharing the same names.

I am frazzled, but I am writing, at least as soon as I get back from the park.