Tuckered out

Wilson TuckerLast night I watched the first four episodes of Breaking Bad, an AMC series about a high school English teacher who starts cooking crystal meth as a way of paying for his medical bills after he’s diagnosed with lung cancer and given a poor outcome. He hooks up with a former student, a dismal failure in his class, who has connections with the drug community.

The first season only ran for seven episodes because of the writer’s strike, but it was enough to garner the lead actor an Emmy award. The show is pretty twisted and unflinching. This isn’t prettied up drug peddling. People die. Shit blows up. Bodies are disposed of, some of them poorly. Someone else ends up as a hostage in someone else’s basement for days and days. And just when you think that an evil character might have found redemption, whammo, he comes up with a shard of porcelain. I won’t explain what that all means in case you decide to check it out. It’s all about the lengths to which desperate, ordinarily honest people will go when they’re in a tight situation. Though it wasn’t intended that way, almost a metaphor for what many people are facing right now. The new season starts tomorrow night on AMC.

Bumpy ride into Chicago today. Rainy, foggy and cool on the ground. And windy, of course. I took the blue line in from the airport and transferred to the red line to get me close to the hotel, which is on Michigan Avenue, on the Magnificent Mile. When did Chicago turn into Manhattan? I heard more honking horns on the street in half an hour than I hear in a year in Houston! And this was on a Saturday afternoon/evening, not during rush hour.

After I got settled in, I wandered the streets for a while in search of some grub. Settled for a pasta and spaghetti restaurant near Rush Street. Big, big bowl of pasta. Too much to handle. Terrific bread, too. I couldn’t bring the leftovers back to the hotel–no place to store ’em–but I took the bread.

Who’s that dude, you’re probably wondering. The one in the corner of this post. Well, his name is Wilson Tucker and he’s there as an avatar for this post because I found out today I’m going to be Tuckerized in an upcoming short story. Check out the link if you’ve never heard of Tuckerization. Can’t say who’s going to do it to me yet, or where the story will appear, and it’s just a cameo, a brief mention, but I’m pretty excited about it. I have been Tuckerized before, most notably in Michael Slade’s Bed of Nails, where I meet a pretty grim fate.

I read quite a bit of the new Kate Atkinson on the flight. An interesting story about two women who were victims of violence–or rather, they were the survivors of violence that was inflicted around them–and how they’ve handled their lives in the aftermath. It’s not obvious from the get-go that that is what the book’s about, and for all I know it might end up being about something else completely, but I love the way Atkinson indulges herself in pure characterization and pure storytelling, not all of which advances the plot. There’s an entire chapter about a character who takes a “long cut” through the countryside, and the payoff is a woman refusing a lift from him because he’s going in the wrong direction–which ultimately he is. Fascinating writer.

Don’t forget to push your clocks around tonight.

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