Smoke on the Water
I got this e-mail from someone called "Puff of Smoke." He or she assured me that you all love me, and you all love my work, but that I am doing things beneath me by "name-dropping those more famous" than me and talking about money. As per, I would guess, "Wastelander V." Bummer, dude! I wrote right away and asked the old Who question, "Who are you?" Long time readers of this blog will know there was no answer.

Sometimes you're on the peaks, and sometimes you're in the valleys. Lately, I have been on the wtin peaks of extended and painful oral surgery. I got Puff's message while drooling blood into wads of malodorous cotton batting, so I am grateful for the effort to cheer me up! (My dentist is more famous than I am in the town where I live, so I won't drop his name.) In between the surgeries (is there any worse thing you can hear when you're in the chair and the dentist has your mouth pried all the way open than: "Get me the scalpels"???), I had to do a panel in Chicago with...DOH! I almost dropped their names! They were famous guys! Then flew in the morning to Muncie, Indiana, for a lovely visit. Sadly for me, I had to get on the road at 4:45 a.m. to get back to Chi to teach my class. Then, back to the scalpels and the blood and Puff.

It's funny, because when the e-mail came, I read it to the house. My close personal friends, Johnny Depp and Will Farrell were over, helping me count money. Will was like, "Oh darn it, Puff of Smoke! I'm, like, so pissed right now! I was up to $730,000, and you made me lose count!" Fortunately, my former sweetheart--my prom date when I won Homecoming King--Oprah, was in the other room and didn't hear all the fuss. She hit me on the intercom and was like, "What do I do with these piles of tens and twenties?" I was like: "Toss 'em out! I make SO MUCH MONEY that I don't have time for chump-change!" All of a sudden, I got a call from my screening room. I recently converted seven rooms of my 38 bedroom manse to a home theatre. It was Shakira, down there with Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They were so peeved that Quentin Tarantino was late getting his new flick over. But I didn't mind--I was secretly holding off till my dawg, Pope Benedict, got over here in his hooptie.

Leaving tomorrow for Seattle. From there to Penn State. From there to a town hall meeting in Denver. I hope to do a good job, though I'm tired and achy and, well, guarded. It has been a strange year, I must admit. (Oh...NOOO...I can't stop myself--I MUST NAME-DROP!!! I once met Stephen King! I called him Steve!!!!) (I never met BOB DYLAN, but I saw his picture on his records!!!!!) (I never met COLONEL SANDERS, but I love me some crispy chicken!!!!!!!!!) Oh, hey--check it out. I just made $947.58 writing that.

Trying to get through my semester: that's really my main concern right now. You and the students. I leave you with a great stanza I just sent out to my writer pals:

What do we care
if life is a joke.
We'll give it a big kiss
and give it a poke.
Death wears a big hat
'cause he's a big bloke.
We're only living this instant.

--Elvis Costello
(I don't know him.)

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