Buzzkill

I’ll frequently walk into a room and forget why I’ve gone there, until some visual clue — a urinal often does it — snaps me back into the moment. It’s not a sign of advancing age: As a kid, getting dressed for school, I’d get lost in thought while sitting on my bed, one sock on and one sock off, until my Mom came in and shook me out of my catatonic state. (And wouldn’t that be a great name for a university?)

Today, I watched the final few minutes of the basketball game between my alma mater (Marquette, not Catatonic State) and my wife’s alma mater (Connecticut). When UConn’s Jerome Dyson hobbled off the court with an injury, I thought of those Dyson vacuum cleaner commercials, in which that English guy talks about the superiority of a Dyson’s turning radius, pivoting as it does on a ball instead of turning on four wheels. It looks like a high-end car commercial, the Dyson slaloming through a living room like a BMW through the Alps. And I always think: This guy really needs to get over his vacuum fetish. I mean, it’s just a vacuum. (I also think: Vacuum — two cs, one u, or two us, one c?)

With 30 seconds left in the game, the TV came back into focus. (“Welcome back to the world of the living,” my Dad always said when I returned from these reveries.) Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom hit three straight free throws to tie the game at 68. Johnson-Odom made me think of Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, a Purdue women’s basketball assistant. My wife recently asked her if she’d hyphenate when she got married and Wisdom-Hylton said absolutely she would. Makes me hope she’ll one day marry “Welcome Back Kotter” star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs — or at the very least Darius Johnson-Odom — and get three hyphens in her surname. I think that would look cool on paper, like a string of railroad cars hitched together. It would give literal resonance to the phrase “getting hitched.”

But back to the game. On TV, they cut to Marquette coach Buzz Williams. It’s a great name, Buzz, and I thought of all the Buzzes who have gone before him: Buzz Aldrin, Buzz Lightyear, my great-uncle Buzz Boyle, who played leftfield for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a franchise that would later have a general manager named Buzzy Bavasi. Other Buzzes came to mind — basketball player Buzz Peterson, writer Buzz Bissinger — until all these individual Buzzes blended into one sustained buzz, a beehive of inactivity.

That’s when I realized the buzz I was hearing was the final buzzer of the basketball game. It was over. Marquette won. I haven’t a clue how.

The Pint Man

Welcome to the new SteveRushin.com, with its book-flogging home page alerting visitors to the imminent arrival of The Pint Man, my first novel, to be published by Doubleday on February 23, 2010. That’s an auspicious date in the publishing industry: Johannes Gutenberg published his first Bible on February 23, 1455. I’d be pleased if The Pint Man sold even half as well.

As for the site itself: I’m not entirely sure what that “Rushin Media” window portends, but it looks ominous, doesn’t it — the rabbit-eared logo of some ’50s multinational. Perhaps I will post video there, if I can figure out how to do that.

In the coming days and weeks I’ll be writing more frequently on the site, and adding my first several appearances for The Pint Man to the News link. Incidentally, the photo on the News link — the one evidently taken through a keyhole of the manager’s office in a Barnes & Noble in St. Paul, Minnesota — is of me meeting my earliest literary hero: Jack Klugman, a.k.a. New York Herald sportswriter Oscar Madison, whose influence can be seen to this day in my wardrobe.

Flacco Seagulls

If you’re like me, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco always makes you think of Joe Klecko (the ex-Jet), then of retired placekicker Al Del Greco, then of Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco, then (in short order) of Del Taco, the Geico Gecko, fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco, pachinko (the Japanese arcade game), Plinko (pachinko-like game on “The Price is Right”), Zico (Brazilian soccer legend), Deco (Portuguese-Brazilian soccer semi-legend), Necco (the New England Confectionary Co., maker of candy valentine hearts), Richard Grieco (of “21 Jump Street”), Wacko Jacko (British tabloid epithet for Michael Jackson), Taco (who sang “Puttin’ on the Ritz”), Paco (Rabanne), Poco (’70s soft rockers who did “Crazy Love”), Jocko (Conlan, Hall-of-Fame umpire), Rocco (Mediate), the VW Scirocco and the health-care documentary “Sicko,” which — depending on your political leanings — was or was not socko. If you’re like me.