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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Tuesday, November 26


Both of us were still feeling uneasy about our trip into downtown Phoenix for the SYTYCD show. We left at 5:30, assuming about thirty minutes to get to the theatre where we’d park and then find some place nearby for a light dinner. Wrong on almost all counts. It was dark by the time we’d gone only a few miles, and our unfamiliarity with Phoenix made it more like forty-five minutes. Lots of traffic, most of which was going the other way or the trip would have been even longer, but what seemed like an endless line of light in my eyes made the drive difficult. After half an hour, I put aside my male pride in never needing directions and stopped at a Circle K to ask how much farther to Van Buren St. Another mile or two, the clerk told me Middle Easternly. We drove on, found our turnoff, found the parking garage, and got parked by 6:20, with cars and people all over the place. And the people were all streaming to Comerica Theatre. We decided we wouldn’t have time for a cocktail and a bit to eat. Instead, we got in a line of several hundred people waiting to get in. Security guards checked all bags and purses for suspicious stuff like guns and explosives, but I think it was more for spotting forbidden bottles of water and soda. Just like at baseball stadiums, Comerica wanted to sell you five buck popcorn, five buck bottles of water. So I grudgingly bought both as a substitute for dinner. Comerica, like the garage next door, looked brand new—very high ceiling, seating on two levels with a balcony above, and lots of seats, all really small and close together with very little leg room. We found our seats, heaved a sigh, and sat with our bucket of popcorn and one bottle of water. We had nearly an hour before the show was to begin, so we munched and watched people-watched as they come in. Two huge girls sat down two rows in front of us. One of them was so big-butted I didn’t think she had a chance of fitting in one of these tiny seats. But she oozed her way in, flesh sort of flopping out on both sides. I pitied the poor lady who was seated next to her. If the world’s unluckiest person were flying cross country, this girl would be the one who’d be sitting right next to him in the aisle seat with another just like her in the window seat. The people kept coming in and the seats kept filling. I could only guess what the capacity of Comerica would be, but lots and lots of seats. I looked it up this morning, 5,000. Now our seats were dead center, but back so far the stage looked tiny. And I paid $48 apiece. I’m guessing the seats in the lower section nearer the stage would have been quite a bit higher. And when everybody was in and seated, it looked like it was at least 95% filled. That’s a bunch of people and a bunch of money for this show. A very young girl was seated next to Rosalie and another next to me. They had to have been interested in dance to sit so quietly and attentively through the two-hour performance. Finally, Nigel Lythgoe appeared like Oz on a large screen at the back of the stage and got it started, telling us what we were going to see, who all the dancers were. Then the music began and the fourteen dancers all danced down the aisles from the rear and onto the stage, where they did a lengthy number to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Then it was almost an hour of steady dance numbers, mostly doubles, some group stuff, and all ten of the finalists doing a short solo. Choreographers from the show introduced some of the numbers via the big screen—Sonya Tayeh (she of the strange hair styles and body piercing), Tyce Diorio, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, Mandy Moore, and Travis Wall. Most of the dance numbers featured the winners from season 10: Amy Yakima and Du-Shaunt Stegal (Fik-shun) as well as the two runnersup, Jasmine Harper (she with the legs that go forever) and Aaron Turner (the husky tapper that learned how to do it all). A short intermission and then another hour before it was over. The only things missing were Mary Murphy and her screaming and Cat Deeley and her blond beauty. It was exciting, it was moving, it was great dancing, with great music and lighting effects. But the performers were so very far away. I found that during the solos, when each dancer was shown on that large back screen, I was watching the screen instead of the live dancer on stage. As with sporting events, watching it on the tube is closer to the action than any seat in the house. So too was this performance. The one thing that sitting in one’s house watching televised football or basketball or So You Think You Can Dance can’t duplicate is the energy of the crowd. We and the other 4500 or so people in the audience cheered and applauded and ooed and aahed together whenever a dancer or dance number did something spectacular. That togetherness felt good. But I’m not sure it was worth the time and money we invested in it. I’m glad we went, but neither of us will make such a trip again.
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