Midsouthcon Merriment, Pt. 1


We arrived late Wednesday night to sad news: Jesse's father had just died. Mr. Morris Sr. had struggled with cancer and other illnesses for several years, but there is no way to be prepared for such a thing. My heart goes out to Jesse and his mother, as they continue to deal with their loss.

Thursday was Research Day. Being an author, research is a variable term. In the morning, the boy and I went to the Memphis Botanical Gardens and wandered about. The Memphis gardens are considerably smaller than ours back home, but the boy loved their children's garden and I caught several pictures of a lovely swan. I told the boy the story of the Ugly Duckling, and to my surprise, he had never heard it before.

Lunch was La Baguette, because I cannot pass through Memphis without visiting my old employer. No one in the continental U.S. makes chicken salad like La Baguette. We nommed much French bread and I introduced the boy to chocolate napoleans. We also picked up a boxful of pastries to share with our friends throughout the week: almond croissants from La Baguette are a separate deadly sin from the original seven.

Then we meandered downtown, searching in vain for the Center for Southern Folklore. Seems that wasn't about what I thought it'd be about, so we parked and hiked up and down the waterfront taking pictures of good places for bodies to wash up. I told you "research" was a variable term.

ME: Ooh, that's a good place for a body!
BOY: You know, if someone hears you say that, they're gonna call 911.
ME: I can run.
BOY: You'll never take me alive, copper!
ME: *dies*

Then we spent far too much money on a popular tourist trap: the Memphis riverboats. It was a 90-minute sightseeing cruise up and down the Mississippi on a replica steamboat, narrated by a man who had my sense of history. He told us about steamboat wrecks and ghosts, about a man in a fishing boat who rescued drowning shipwreck survivors, about floods that sent thousands of Arkansans fleeing across the bridges, about Civil War battles and the yellow fever plagues and Prohibition bootlegging and the nights when the bridges caught fire and the people gathered on the riverbank to watch them burn.

We actually got our money's worth.

It was freezing on the water, but the boy is never cold. He went right up to the very front, stepped up on the railing and played King of the World. I took pictures. We added another magnet to our refrigerator collection.

Afterward, we still had some time to kill, so we walked down to Beale Street. The boy had never seen it, and given his love of music, I knew it was necessary. We walked past B.B. King's and Silky O'Sullivan's, stopped to listen to a live band playing in someone's beer garden and fended off the folks trying to get us to buy CDs. I tried to explain the history of the blues and birthplace of rock-n-roll, but he was pretty excited, so I don't know how much sank in.

On our way back, I took him up to the Orpheum, on the off chance we could get inside and he could see it. Alas, they don't let you just look.

Next I delivered the boy to his stepmother, and stopped off at Davis-Kidd on Poplar. Yes, they still have two copies of ABADDON in stock, so somebody go buy them. They're autographed first edition first printings, folks - that book's now been reprinted, so the DK versions are half the cost of the current edition and worth far more.

I swung by the hotel to de-gross myself. I've fallen in love with this little extended-stay place around the corner from the Holiday Inn on Democrat where they used to hold Midsouthcon. The hotel is nice enough, with interior corridors and relatively clean rooms, full kitchens and half the cost of the Holiday Inn. They've always been friendly and taken good care of me. By accident, I got bumped up to a suite, which was very nice.

On to the Memphis Pizza Cafe, and I managed to get lost in my own city. You leave town for a couple of decades and they change everything. They applauded when I finally made it, because they're smartasses.

The Stubblefield clan was there, plus Duesterhaus and the Sparrows and Andy Winemiller. Beers were drunk, pizza was et and many of them snarked me, because that's what they do when I come to town. I did the math and realized babies born the year we all met are about to graduate high school. Duesterhaus did not thank me for this bit of intelligence. He and his wife are expecting their second; the Stubblefields brought their baby; I know that Kaiser and his wife are expecting... everyone is procreating this year!

After dinner wrapped up, I intended to go to Otherlands and do some damn writing. I'd hoped to get to 10,000 words on BLACKFIRE before the show. But Otherlands was closed. At nine p.m. CLOSED. Did I miss a meeting? I wandered around the Cooper-Young district looking for a coffeehouse that understands the late-night caffeine concept, but found none.

So I retired to my hotel, with laptop and chocolate. Not a bad way to spend an evening, eh?


  1. Center for Southern Folklore? I have often meant to visit... what was not to your expectations?


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