Pop Muzik

Friday, and a new month. Rabbit, rabbit, and all that, you know.

Or did I mess that up by typing something else first?

I’m so bad at these things.

Anyway, it is now February, and Carnival is just over the horizon. Parades literally start three weeks from today. #madness

I am taking vacation during most of the parade season; the new office is too far for me to walk to and from, so I decided to simply take vacation and actually enjoy parade season for a change. I should also be able to get a lot done during those days–kind of like a mini-staycation (although I loathe that not-a-word and can’t believe I still use it from time to time). I also can’t believe the first night of the parades is in three weeks. THREE WEEKS.

Of course, as Facebook seems to remind me on an almost daily basis, Carnival is late this year. Usually at this time parades are rolling and the city is full of tourists and I am exhausted from walking and working and going to parades. So, yes, Carnival is later this year than usual and yet somehow…it still snuck up on me? Go figure.

I finished reading The Klansman last night, but as I did some things occurred to me–namely, for a book about the Civil Rights struggle and racism in Alabama, there sure weren’t many characters that were people of color. Yes, a book about civil rights and racism placed the white people at the center of the story. Admittedly, the book wasn’t aimed at or written for people of color; the audience was white people…but I can’t see racist white people in the 1960’s reading the book and not being outraged by its “sympathetic” depictions of people of color. The book also sports the trope of the white savior–the “good white man” who stands up for the people of color and therefore becomes a target of the Klan.

There’s a really good essay–and one I might try to write–about the arc from The Clansman (the horribly offensive novel that Birth of a Nation was based on; it’s actually available for free from Google Books) to Gone with the Wind to The Klansman and how Southern people and authors rewrote history to not just romanticize and glorify the Southern Cause in the Civil War, but also the Ku Klux Klan; and how those narratives have changed perceptions not only of the war and racism, and the South itself. The Klansman is an attempt to reverse that trend, but to expose racism in the Jim Crow South not as something romantic and necessary, but as an evil on par with the original sin of slavery itself.

William Bradford Huie (who also wrote The Americanization of Emily, The Revolt of Mamie Stover, and The Execution of Private Slovik) deserves a lot of credit for writing this book, despite its flaws. He was born and raised in Alabama, and still lived there when he wrote and published this book–which couldn’t have earned him a lot of fans in the state. I’ve read any number of books by white people that have attempted to talk about the Civil Rights movement–and there are always these heroic white Southern people who stood up to the Klan and fought for the rights of people of color at great risk to themselves and to their families; as well as pushing the narrative that the real racists in the South were the working class and poor whites, while the middle and upper classes wrung their  hands with dismay but didn’t try to do anything. I think that narrative is false; white people aren’t the heroes of the Civil Rights movement by any means. And while class certainly played a huge part in Jim Crow and the codification of segregation and racism into law; I find it really hard to believe that more financially stable white Southern people weren’t racists. I first encountered the class discussion in David Halberstam’s The Fifties (which I do highly recommend); but while I do believe the class discussion has merit–and discussion of class/caste in America is way overdue–I don’t think it completely holds water, or holds up under close scrutiny.

Ironically, Jim Crow and codified racism is part of the reason the South lags so far behind the rest of the country economically.

We continue to ignore class in this country at our own peril, quite frankly.

I am going into the office early today to get my four hours out of the way, and then I am going to go run errands so hopefully I won’t have to leave the Lost Apartment this weekend. I hope to get all the cleaning and organizing done today, and then I am most likely going to either read Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress or Caleb Roehrig’s White Rabbit, which I am picking up at the library today. I also am going to tackle some Stephen King short stories this weekend, rereading Skeleton Crew. I need to get back to work on both the Scotty book and the WIP this weekend; I also want to do some short story revisions so I can send some more stories out for submission. I also have some other projects in the beginning stages I’d like to organize and plan out.

And on that note, ’tis back to the spice mines. Have a terrific Friday, Constant Reader!

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Coward of the County

Thursday! Didn’t think we’d make it this far, did you, Constant Reader?

Yesterday was cold–not as cold as it is pretty much everywhere north of I-10–but today’s not so bad. Forecast to be in the fifties with a high of 61, the sun is out and the sky is blue and full of puffy white clouds. I only have to work a half-day today and tomorrow, so I’ll be sliding into the weekend relatively casually.

I finished proofing Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories last night, and now just have to fill out the corrections form to turn in. I also watched another episode of Titans, which introduced us to Jason Todd, aka Robin 2.0, and the show has done an excellent job of casting and writing this character. The young actor who plays him–I didn’t take the time to look up who he is–is pitch-perfect; even more so than the actor playing Dick Grayson. Titans is so well-done that DC Universe really needs to use it as a guide for any other super-hero team shows it might do; so much better than Legends of Tomorrow, which I was very excited about but lost interest in very quickly; I think I only watched two episodes.

I really do miss Agent Carter.

I also read more of The Klansman yesterday, and while it is still wince-inducing, it’s actually really good–or so I think. The horror of the racism and sexism of 1965 Alabama is incredibly difficult to read, but it is in-your-face, pull-no-punches honest….a lot more honest, frankly, than To Kill a Mockingbird, which I also read for the first time the same summer I read The Klansman. One of the things the author, William Bradford Huie (who was from Alabama and lived there) does really well is pull aside the pleasant mask most racists were and expose the ugliness underneath, while also showing their humanity; a humanity that exists despite their malignant beliefs and values.

Take, for example, this paragraph:

The Atoka Hospital was the most visited institution in Atoka County. This was because the people of the county were friendly. Each day the local radio station broadcast the names of the patients admitted the previous day, so whenever a person remained in the hospital for several days he could count on being visited by most of his relatives, many of his friends, even a few of his casual acquaintances. But this visiting was not interracial. Whites visited whites; Negroes visited Negroes. In the first twenty years of the hospital’s existence, from 1945 to 1965, no white man, unless he was a doctor or a policeman, visited a Negro patient. A few white women visited their Negro cooks. But certainly no white man ever visited a Negro girl. So when Breck Stancill, after hearing Dr. Parker’s report, visited the private room occupied by Loretta Sykes at 11:20 pm, he gained invidious distinction and caused ugly talk.

(aside: I am really glad the word negro has passed out of usage; as you can see from the above paragraph, it was commonly accepted in the 1960’s and was preferred to the n word and colored. Huie also used the n word liberally throughout the book, but it’s always used in dialogue by racist characters and never in the prose, unless the prose is going inside the character’s head.)

This is the kind of world that racists want us to return to; one where ‘whites’ are superior and separated (above) from other ‘races.’ This book is set in 1965 Alabama; and I was four years old at the time. This was the world I was born into, this existed and changed during the course of my lifetime. Huie perhaps does one of the best jobs I’ve ever read of writing about the reality of racism and segregation; and by humanizing his racists he makes them all the more horrible to contemplate; the three-dimensional monster is always more frightening than the one-dimensional.

I’ll probably finish reading the book tonight, since I get off work early, and I am taking voluminous notes…but probably won’t review the book until this weekend.

And now back to the spice mines.

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More Love

So, yesterday I went to pick up the mail–I’d ordered some sleepy-time tea on line, and they’d arrived on Wednesday, and yes, this tea actually works–and discovered FOUND MONEY in the mail. Back when I worked for that Unnamed Airline (Continental), in my last year there they gave us stock–something I would imagine they continued doing–but it was Class B or something; whatever it was, we couldn’t sell it. Flash forward and they merged with United. Fine, it was only ten shares, whatever, I always get the notice every year and just toss it in a drawer.

Yesterday, I actually read the thing and discovered that–wait, it’s now the kind of stock you can sell. It took me five minutes, but I signed into the stock website and sold that. It only took another five minutes for it to actually sell. How cool! I love when found money suddenly shows up, you know? It makes me quite happy.

I knew when I woke up yesterday was going to be a marquee day for the week, and it was. Huzzah! Part of it was after feeling so low energy all week, despite being rested, was waking up with batteries recharged; that happened again this morning in time for my short day this week. I have some errands to run this morning before I go in this afternoon; and some other things I need to get done around the Lost Apartment.

I’m still reading Last Seen Leaving  by Caleb Roehrig, which I am enjoying. I hope to finish reading it today, and then I am moving on to another Diversity Project book (after reading some short stories), and I think I’ve decided to read The Klansman by William Bradford Huie. I read this book when I was about nine or ten originally; I know the book belonged to my uncle, and I read it one lazy summer I was spending in Alabama (the same summer I read To Kill a Mockingbird.) Huie isn’t really talked about much anymore–at least not that I’m aware of–and The Klansman was a look at the violence and horror of the Civil Rights Era from the perspective of a white sheriff in a small county in Alabama who’s trying to keep the peace. Huie also wrote The Execution of Private Slovik, and other books illustrating social justice issues. I liked the book a lot, and it was, I think, the first time in my life I was ever given a different perspective on civil rights other than what I was hearing at home or at school, so I am curious to see how it holds up. I can’t remember when I remembered the book and tracked down a used copy on line; but am pretty certain it was after some tragedy involving racism in the last few years–unfortunately I can’t be more specific than that because there have been so many.

So, I have a nice busy weekend ahead of me–reading, cleaning, reading page proofs, and perhaps working on the Scotty revision. I’d also like to go to the gym both days as well; it never hurts to get the working out monkey off my back and start making time for the self-care and self-improvement I desperately need to make this year a winner.

Our Internet was out last night, so we couldn’t watch anything on television–no Australian Open, no US Figure Skating championships, none of the shows we watch regularly, nothing–so I spent the night doing some cleaning and some more reading. The good news, of course, is that it back this morning and a lot faster than it was before the crash last night (or of the last few weeks or so), which is lovely.

And on that note, probably should get back to the spice mines. Happy Friday, everyone.

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The First Noel

We made it, Constant Reader!

The end of the wretched 2018 is on the horizon; mayhap 2019 will be a better year for everyone and the world.

One can hope, at any rate.

I actually slept for almost eleven hours last night; I cannot recall the last time I ever slept so late. I feel good, but also kind of like I’ve lost my morning. But it’s a four day weekend so who cares? 

And see, that’s how it starts–the downward slippery slope into getting nothing accomplished. It is amazing how quickly and easily my mind will come up with reasons not to write, not to edit, not to get anything done–pretty much anything will do. But this is how it goes….and it’s also very easy to fall into the mindset of nothing matters, you’re terrible at this, you slave away and for what, everyone else gets time off….and on and on and on it goes.

But you have to make sacrifices if you’re going to be a writer. And sometimes, your lazy time (which you love because you are at heart incredibly lazy) is what you do have to give up. And I need to view this long, deep, wonderful sleep as ‘well, you clearly needed the rest, but that has to count as your lazy time for the day.’

I wrote another fifteen hundred words or so on Bury Me in Satin, whose title, going forward, is going to be changed. “Bury me in satin” is a lyric from a song I love, “If I Die Young” by the Band Perry, and while technically I don’t need their permission to use the title, I kind of should ask–it’s the done thing, and since I neither want to bother (lazy!) nor does the title really fit the book (it kind of  only does in the mood I am trying to set, and I’ve already gotten the mood down) I’ve been thinking I want to change it. As we all know, I am very reluctant to make changes–I resist and resent change with all of my being–last night the new title came to me. Part of the resistance was I liked having Bury Me in the title, and last night I figured out a way to retain those words but change the rest of the title from the song lyric. I like the new title, but I think I’m going to keep it under wraps for a while. I usually don’t refer to works-in-progress by their titles; but I’ve called the “one for agent search” the WIP for so long I now think of it that way in my head; I can’t call anything else the WIP anymore. But–and this is an important but–it’s really what I called “the Kansas book” forever; I am going to rebrand it in my head and call it “the Kansas book” again, and the one I am currently working on will be the WIP. I also thought of some new ways to deepen the main character and iron out some plot issues I was having with the WIP. (see what I just did there?) So, my decision to stop writing new chapters after finishing Chapter Eight while I go back and clean up those already written was clearly the right decision to make.

Hopefully, that will also be the case with the final polish of the Scotty book. One can hope, at any rate.

And…the kitchen and entire house is a disaster area yet again, so there’s cleaning and organizing to be done as well.

And on that note, I need to get back to the spice mines.

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Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Paul leaves today for a week to visit his mother and family. I don’t mind being alone–well, alone except for an exceptionally needy cat–and so hopefully I will find the time to get things done. I managed almost three thousand words on the book last night, and I have some more work to do on the Scotty and the short story collection. If I focus–and I know I can–there should be no reason whatsoever that I can’t get all of this revising and editing and some writing done over the course of the week he’s going to be gone. I am hoping that my weird issue with the original back-up hard drive can be resolved by simply plugging it in to Paul’s computer this evening and then moving everything on it to the Cloud–and I will definitely need to spend some time cleaning up my iCloud drive. I tend to simply move stuff there and just leave it, so it isn’t very organized. I am really angry at myself for not being as anal this year about backing things up as I’ve been in the past, and while I know I’ve lost some things, I am hopeful that most everything that might be gone (the flash drive is gone forever, I fear) should be recovered from that backup hard drive.

Heavy heaving sigh. But must keep focused, must keep moving forward, must get things done.

I suppose one of the best things about not having published much (if at all) in the last few years is that there’s nothing lost permanently, at any rate. And I’ve printed most of everything out–people mock me for this, but you know what? It’s not as easy to lose a printed copy of something as it is apparently for electronic back-ups to disappear in the blink of an eye.

I was very pleased that I was able to log all those words last night while Paul packed. While it was a bit of a slog, and they aren’t good words by any means, I also realized last night before I went to bed that it’s a first draft and many times a first draft is just me vomiting up story and setting and characters; the real work begins with the second draft as I flesh the characters out and tie up the story and delete diversionary secondary stories that never go anywhere. I had wanted to have the first draft finished by the end of November–which plan turned out to be a complete and utter failure–but I would like to get the first draft finished by the end of December so I can get something else going after the first of the year. I’m hoping to be able to get back to the WIP, maybe get it all finished and tied up in a lovely loop by the end of February, and start getting it sent out to prospective agents in the new year.

Here’s hoping, at any rate.

And on that short note, I am heading back into the spice mines. I am hoping to get some of the next chapter done this morning before I take Paul to the airport on my way to work.

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Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

I fell into an Internet wormhole the other day–history, of course, was involved–and now, with my scattered ADHD mind, I can’t stop thinking about the unintended research I was doing. An ad popped up on the evil Facebook (or the even more evil Twitter) about the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453; and yes, that triggered me going into a search about the fall of the city, why it happened, who was the last patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church at the time of the fall, what was the last Byzantine Emperor’s story, and so forth.

I’ve always had a Colin stand-alone adventure novel in the back of my head, going all the way back to Bourbon Street Blues when I first introduced the character. My original plan, as you know, Constant Reader, was to make Bourbon Street Blues a stand-alone as well; when I introduced Colin and came up with his backstory, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to write a series about a gay undercover op for hire? I had always had this idea for a treasure hunt novel–yes, inspired by Indiana Jones, if you must know, go ahead and judge me–but it had to do with something smuggled out of Hagia Sophia before Constantinople fell to the Venetians and the Crusaders in 1204; but having researched that actual event, it doesn’t really work for the story. But the final fall of the city–turning it from the Christian capital of the East to the capital of an Islamic empire, and also ending the Roman Empire once and for all–actually would work for this story, based on what I read yesterday. The thing that was smuggled out was a document, or an original manuscript, of a secret book of the new Testament that challenged the very nature of Christianity as it was known then; Catholicism and Orthodoxy–which means the stakes in the current day would also be pretty high.

Will I ever write a Colin stand-alone novel? Probably not, but you never know. I have so many other things to write. I’ll never be able to write everything I want to write before i die, I fear.

Such is life. There’s never enough time, and of course, I am horrifically lazy, which doesn’t help on any level.

And of course, now that it’s around four in the afternoon I am getting tired. I woke up at six this morning, stayed in bed until seven, and then got started on my day. I drank coffee and cleared out my email inbox; I wrote a bunch of emails and saved them in the drafts folder to send first thing in the morning; and then I went to the grocery store. After putting the groceries away, I started making a birthday cake for a co-worked–a new red velvet cheesecake recipe I’d been wanting to try–and of course, while I was working on the cheesecake layer my hand mixer burned out. Complete with burning electrical smell and smoke coming out of the motor (three hours later the kitchen still smells like an electrical fire) and so, not wanting to go to Walmart on a Sunday, I walked over to the Walgreens on the corner, vaguely having seen that they sell kitchen appliances. I rarely go there–and usually only in case of an emergency, which this certainly was–and of course, they’ve rearranged the entire store since the last time I was there. And of course there are aisles of Christmas stuff where other things ought to be. But I persisted, because I really didn’t want to go to Wal-mart on a Sunday afternoon just to buy a hand mixer, and I found one. It seemed a bit pricey, but then I figured you bought the last one twelve years ago so prices may have gone up since then besides you’re paying a premium for convenience. 

So I bought it.

Constant Reader, that was the best money I could have spent on a hand mixer. It’s so much better than my old one it’s not even funny; on the slowest setting it mixes with more power than the old one–a BLACK AND DECKER–did on it’s highest setting. In other words, that cheesecake was beaten and ready to go in the oven in no time. And who knew whipped cream was so easy to make?

Well, it is with my new mixer, at any rate.

So the red velvet cheesecake is now chilling in my refrigerator. I tried working on the book but I am tired and my brain is tired too. I am even too tired to read, methinks. So, I am going to go try to find something to watch on the television while I relax in my easy chair.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll have the energy to write later.

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(They Long To Be) Close to You

Correction to yesterday’s new books announcement: I forgot to mention I also got a copy of Jeff Abbott’s The Three Beths.

My bad! Looking forward to it, Jeff!

If I ever get a chance to read again. Heavy heaving sigh.

My flashdrive has disappeared again; I’m hoping it’s either in my car or I left it at the office. It isn’t a big deal–some things, yes, but not as much as one might think. I’ve been trying to use the Cloud to move things around, and back things up to as I work on them, and it seems to be working. So, this wouldn’t be a complete and total and utter disaster–although I do believe the entire Scotty book is on it, and may not necessarily have backed up (but I already turned it in, so my publisher has an electronic version I can simply ask for; and for that matter its probably in my sent mail), but as parenthetically explained, I’m not overly concerned. Bury Me in Satin is safe, and I think I’ve backed up almost everything else at some point or another in the last month or so. Finding things might be a challenge, but they should be there somewhere.

Sigh.

I did work on Bury Me in Satin a little yesterday, around running errands and doing things around the house (I washed the bed linens, made white bean chicken chili in the slow cooker, re-organized some cabinets and drawers, did some filing, paid some bills) and then watched the Georgia-Alabama game, which was quite intense, and then Paul and I watched some more episodes of Schitt’s Creek, which is amazing.

Today, I have to make a grocery run and make a birthday cake for a co-worker, and I hope to do some more cleaning in the living room area. Of course, Paul is also leaving for a week on Wednesday, and so I’ll also be doing a lot of cleaning around that time as well. I need to buy his Christmas presents, so they’re here and wrapped by the time he gets back.

That would be smart. Maybe I’ll even get the holiday cards done while he’s gone.

A boy can dream, can’t he? Especially a fifty-seven year old one.

All right, perhaps I should get back to the spice mines. This stuff isn’t going to get done on its own, after all.

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