March 29, 2008

Springtime Tallahassee

For forty years, Tallahassee has celebrated springtime in grand fashion with a downtown festival--funnel cake, kettle corn, cotton candy, the works. The standout performance was the Boys and Girls Club dance troupe. They had talent.

It reminded me of the Maryland State Fair 2006 -- the highlight of which was the pig race. The announcer got so enthused about urging on Wilbur and Babe and the rest of the oinkers. Politicians and voters alike couldn't help but laugh out loud.

The parade floats driving up and down Apalachee were something else, too.

The Best Buy on Apalachee Parkway is in bloom.

Greyhounds are ready for spring.

Boys and Girls Club dance team.

March 28, 2008

Pebble Hill

On the Plantation Parkway between Tallahassee and Thomasville, Georgia...Pebble Hill Plantation. As I understand, there are lots of plantations lining the roadway on route 319, but Pebble Hill is one of the few open to the public. There is lots of room to roam around and take pictures.

There are tours of the manor.

This has been on my list for a while and now I've checked it off.

March 27, 2008

Big Tom Scratchin'

Turkey season begins; Tallahassee takes note in this profile piece. I can't imagine how Holmes County depleted its gobbler population, but it happened.

Reaction and Romanticism

I mentioned before Cormac McCarthy. Everyone has their own opinion on why people keep reading him, but I categorize his writing as anti-Western in genre. Sort of like Clint Eastwood in film--Mystic River, Unforgiven, etc. You take the romance of the West and turn it on its head and see how the audience reacts.

I think it's obvious from this Oscar season that the genre is alive and well, as much as the true Western was in the old days.

The Romance of the West has been on my mind lately because I keep thinking back to how Governor Chiles read Louis L'Amour books in the Mansion in his spare time. And the novels of Horatio Hornblower. Light stuff. When somebody reads that sort of thing late in life, I think you have to imagine the seeds of that being sown quite early.

March 25, 2008

Making the Mark

A recent interview gave me a nice anecdote about Governor Chiles setting up archery targets in the Mansion yard and firing away some afternoons for the fun of it. It got me thinking about the writing process. It really is true that the more times you try to set a mood or set a scene and you get it right, muscle memory begins to kick in. Which is why fixing mistakes early on is important when you've got 15-20 chapters to plan.

March 23, 2008

"Died With His Boots On"

This most recent Oscar season featured--as I saw it--a duel between two similar pictures. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood painted peopled at war with their landscapes. In the antelope plains of south Texas and the eastern California desert, your heart rate is up every hour. The aging sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones in No Country can barely keep a smile sitting in the kitchen with his father. Likewise, the protagonist of Blood can never fill his heart, no matter how many oil wells he drills.

One of the things I like most about the work I have done on the Chiles book and what's ahead is that in his world the landscape is a friend and a refuge always. From the Cook Shack in the woods to camping in Osceola National Forest to hunting Polk County's Green Swamp, Florida rain or shine is a place to take big breaths that set every cell free.

If a movie were filmed on his last years in the same vein as No Country and Blood, surely the title would be "Died With His Boots On."