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When I was a kid the fourth of July was just about the biggest day of the year. We'd go to my grandma's place in Windsor Heights to see the parade (or ride in it with bikes covered in streamers), then play in the carnival they set up in the park, swim in the community pool, and watch fireworks. Neighbors came and went. There was Pepsi. 

Nowadays it's still a fun day for me - folks in my neighborhood really do seem to enjoy blowing stuff up. Walk around the neighborhood and there's a fireworks display bigger and more impressive than we had in Windsor Heights going on in just about any given direction at any given time. It's really quite a sight to see.  It never feels like the big EVENT that it was when I was a kid, though.

Also, it is about 101 degrees out today, and that's not okay. I allow the city 1-2 weeks per year of miserable heat, and the same for the miserable cold. It's using up the heat awfully early in the year. 

Last night, according to the best of my records, I ran my 500th tour. It probably wasn't really my 500th, though. I didn't start keeping records until recently, and filled in the blacks of the last 7 years with old emails, LJ entries, etc. Still - 500+ tours. I have a new "e-single" for Llewellyn coming out in the fall about spending time at the site of the HH Holmes Murder Castle (which I think MAY be about to turn into a regular ghost hunting theme park, so I was lucky to get in when it was still pretty much virgin territory). I may have a couple more "singles" out through them ahead of my new GHOSTS OF CHICAGO book next year. Also, there'll be three other Chicago history-oriented books - one on the silent film biz here that I'm doing with Michael Glover Smith, one on "dead jerks," and one on crime. No news on any new novels coming out. 

A guy referred to me as "a terrible skeptic" on the radio last week. He meant it in a nice way, though, so I'm not complaining. I'd much rather be a terrible skeptic than a guy who believes anything and makes stuff up constantly. I always bend over backwards trying to at least get the history right - even though that gets me in trouble now and then. 

It's tough to be in the ghost biz - most intelligent people hear what you do for a living and immediately assume that you're either a jackass or a dumbass. And with good reason - the field is crowded with asses of all varieties. I try to keep a level, skeptical head about things, though I know that's not exactly good for business. In general, people don't want a guy who says "I can't explain this picture; maybe someone else can, but I sure can't." They want "This shadow is definitely a picture of a little girl who came back from the dead, crying to be remembered. This place is freaking haunted, bro." And they don't really seem to care if the history behind a story checks out or not.  I fit into this field about as well as I fit into the YA book scene these days.

But the work is fun, the historical research behind the ghost stories is endlessly fascinating to me, and I get to go inside of lots of nifty places. Also, I've managed to avoid having to do anything I'd find all that humiliating on TV so far. 

Sometimes I wish I felt that I was smart enough to get into politics. But every time I have CSPAN on and there's something happening in Congress, it's like an a.d.d. nightmare for me to imagine trying to sit still in that place. 

Started reading Vanity Fair by Thackeray last year and had to put it aside. Now I'm back at it. Very funny book! I like Thackeray's attitude. And I like that it's a "novel without a hero." Some of mine are like that. 


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
It seems everyone I know had a "not as big" Independence Day this year. I do think the heat is a lot of it. We've been breaking records out here. And with the whole state burning, there's a statewide ban on personal fireworks, and a lot of cities cancelled their shows, too. It doesn't feel like the Fourth without explosions.

As to the ghost biz: keep in mind that there are plenty of folks who like skeptical ghost hunters. For us, we're much more likely to listen if you don't just tell us it's "picture of a little girl who came back from the dead, crying to be remembered." So, thanks for not doing that.
Jul. 11th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you get your facts & history right. We went on Roswell Ghost Tour last year, & it was a bunch of pointing at buildings far away, talking about how nameless women were allegedly throwing dishes. I'm a filker, so I kept looking for stories: "Dude, where's my plot?" etc. I'm sure you give your customers some satisfying history to chew on.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )