Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Patriots, 2007 Plans, and Five Things You Don't Need to Know

They almost had it. The New England Patriots had a year of rebuilding, a year they shouldn't have even been in contention for the Superbowl, with no effective Wide Receivers and no real superstars except Tom Brady. But that's the time when superstars are born, or reborn. That's the time when teams show their mettle. The New England Patriots won three Superbowls in four years because they are a team, first and foremost, and other than Brady, they don't rely on the performance of one individual. This season they managed to put together a brand new team, train a new crop of players, and win enough games to make it to the playoffs in the meantime. They made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of injuries, and by the time they limped into Indianapolis--half the defense sick with the flu, exhausted from a bruising game and road trip to San Diego the week before, and dealing with the sauna-like temperatures inside the dome--they had only one chance. They had to shake up Peyton Manning in the first half, break his confidence, remind him of all the times they'd denied him in the past. They had to come out in front big time, get the momentum, because the defense might not have what it took to make it through the game. It wasn't difficult. Peyton Manning is the whiniest crybaby in football. He's an excellent quarterback, without doubt the most precise passer in the game. But he's not the field general Brady is, not half as cool under fire. The first half, Manning looked like he might just pick up the ball and go home. And then...BAM! Second half. Manning comes out like he's just starting the game, determined and deadly. The Colts' defense can't do much to stop the Patriots offense, but they don't have to as long as Manning is controlling the ball, eating the clock, running the game, and wearing down a Patriots defense that simply fell apart. Do I wish the Patriots were going to the Superbowl? Absolutely. Do I think they could have beaten the Bears with two weeks to rest up? No question. Do I hate whiny, arrogant, tv-commercial whore Peyton Manning with a fiery passion? Yes. Yes I do. But in spite of all that, I must give credit where it is due. Peyton Manning played an extraordinary second half and kept Brady off the field most of the time, denying the Patriots their own best weapon. Congratulations, Peyton. I hope the Bears keep that ring off your finger.

Side note to Patriots coaches and management--if you don't sign Asante Samuel this year, you're insane.


2007 update!

I'm madly at work (no, not right now--I'm writing the blog at the moment) on a new young adult supernatural thriller called POISON INK for Delacourt. With all the widescreen epic stuff I've been writing lately, it's a pleasure to be working on something as intimate and insidious as this.

Travel plans--I'll be at New York Comic-Con next month. At the end of March, I'm headed to Toronto for World Horror Convention. In July I'll be at both Necon and San Diego Comic-Con, and I'm tentatively planning to attend the World Fantasy Convention this fall. Whew.


Five Things You Don't Need to Know

So, my good friend Craig Shaw Gardner www.craigshawgardner.com has tagged me at his own blog with a challenge to provide a list of five things you probably don't know about me. So here goes....

1. According to family lore, on my father's side of the family, we're distant cousins of Buffalo Bill Cody, going back to a time when his ancestors and mine lived on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

2. I spent my high school years singing in a rock cover band called CROSSFIRE. We weren't half bad. Our lead guitarist, Bob Colburn, had extraordinary natural talent.

3. I love musical theatre, and performed in shows in from junior high all the way through high school, including roles as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Rolf in a local production of The Sound of Music, and the Cowardly Lion in both The Wizard of Oz *and* The Wiz.

4. As a kid I had several ambitions. For a while, when the TV show Simon & Simon was on the air, my brother Jamie and I were determined to open our own private detective agency when we grew up. I also considered careers as a police officer, film director, college professor, and priest. Yes, seriously. For about an hour, I thought about being a priest. Those of you who know me well will find this hilarious. My mother always wanted me to be a lawyer. Thankfully, she also was always supportive of my ambitions as a writer. A friend of hers sent a couple of my earliest stories out to magazines when I was 13 or 14. Ellery Queen, Playboy, Alfred Hitchcock, and several others rejected me, but all with encouraging, handwritten notes expressing surprise at my age. That was probably vital for my confidence, but sadly it meant the Golden & Golden Detective Agency was never to be.

5. In high school (sophomore year, I think), Steve Williams, Jeff Galin and I skipped school (we called ourselves in sick, claiming to be our fathers--and they believed us), got drunk, and then set off to walk to McDonald's. While we were cutting through back yards, a dog started barking furiously at us. We barked back. The owner of the house called the police. There had been a series of recent break-ins in that particular suburban neighborhood. Soon, we were running from the police. Jeff ended up in the back of a patrol car, Steve and I were trying to climb a chain link fence . . . and the dumbass local cop pulled his gun on us. "No need for the piece, man," Steve told the cop. When we turned around, the cop realized how old we were and quickly holstered his weapon. Scared the shit out of us. The cops asked us where Jeff lived. He was drunk as a skunk, you see, and looked sort of lost in the back seat of the patrol car. They wanted to take him home. We lied and said we'd just met him that day. When they told us the other option was to take him to the police station, we quickly coughed up his address, complete with our assurance that his mother was home. Then it was down to me and Steve. When asked why we ran, I started to tear up a little, eyes all watery. Adrenaline pumping, freaked out and scared, it wasn't difficult. Steve got all worried about me and patted me on the back, comforting me. I gave him a sidelong glance and a wink, and he had to bite the inside of his mouth to keep from laughing. It hadn't been difficult to summon up tears under the circumstances. When asked where we belonged, we told them Marian High School in Framingham, and we also begged them to call and ask for the chaplain, Father Hughes, instead of the principal. Father Hughes would kick our asses, but he would also referee for us. He was fair and just. (He later baptized one of my children--a wonderful man.) Somehow, for whatever reason (my tears? our willingness to have them call the chaplain?), the cops let us go with a warning. What did Steve and I do? Why, we walked down to McDonald's, just like we planned, while Jeff was sleeping it off at home, his mother waiting for him to sober up before showing him the error of his ways. And on the way back from McDonald's . . . the same cop who'd pulled the gun stopped to offer us a ride home, delivered us to my front door, and asked if we'd been drinking with our buddy that day. He and his partner hadn't been sure. We thanked him for the ride.

Apparently, I need to now tag some other people to create a similar list on their own blog or journal. So, Tim Lebbon, Sarah Pinborough, and Allie Costa...TAG!

WATCHING: HBO's ROME and EXTRAS, and far too many other things.
READING: AGE OF MISRULE by Mark Chadbourn...very glad I didn't read this before writing The Veil Trilogy. Completely different story, but similar elements.
LISTENING TO: the new Madeleine Peyroux