Take Me to Heart

Being an LSU fan is not for the faint of heart.

Saturday afternoon in Toronto, after my panel, Paul and I retired to our room and flipped on the television to see if we could see the LSU-Auburn game up there. There was a CBS station from Buffalo, so we were able to do so; the primary problem being that when we turned the game on, it was late in the first quarter, the score was 17-0, and Auburn had the ball.

We both sighed resignedly and collapsed onto the bed.

I was raised on college football. My dad’s family are Auburn fans, my mother’s Alabama. I’ve had relatives play for both teams; bestselling author Ace Atkins also played for Auburn, and we bonded many years ago over our lifelong fandom of the Auburn Tigers. The rules in my family were very clear: we rooted for Alabama when they played everyone but Auburn. I always liked LSU, though–I thought the whole “Death Valley” thing and having an actual live tiger mascot was kind of cool, and of course I’ve always loved the colors purple and gold. After we moved down here to New Orleans, Paul started watching college football with me on Saturdays, and he started rooting for LSU; the same way we both rooted for the Saints. I followed the same rules I’d grown up with: root for Auburn, root for Alabama when they play everyone else but Auburn, and added root for LSU when they play everyone else but Auburn and Alabama.

Paul, of course, always rooted for LSU.

I remember one night a year or so after we moved here, we were out with friends at Lafitte’s and I happened to notice that the Clover Grill’s television was tuned into the LSU-Florida game. Florida was riding the nation’s longest winning streak, hadn’t lost an SEC (Southeastern Conference) game in a couple of years, and was ranked Number One in the country; LSU wasn’t given much of a chance. I wandered across the street with my beer to watch the kick-off and was stunned as LSU jumped out to an improbable 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. I only walked back across the street to get more beer or go to the bathroom or when it was half-time; I watched that entire game without sound through the Clover Grill’s windows and improbably, upstart LSU managed to hang on and win the game 28-21. It was probably the biggest upset in LSU football history, and Death Valley went crazy–I could also hear people yelling around the Quarter every time LSU scored.

Everyone knows about the great Halloween game between LSU and Ole Miss back in 1959, when LSU was ranked number one and Ole Miss number three, and LSU won on the great Billy Cannon punt return, 7-3. I watched the Auburn-LSU game in 1988, when LSU upset 4th ranked Auburn 7-6 on a last minute touchdown and the fans were jumping up and down so much it registered on the LSU’s geology department’s Richter scale (my cousin was playing for Auburn then, and in full disclosure–I wasn’t thrilled to see that Tommy Hodson pass completion). That game is now known as the Earthquake Game, and clinched a tie for the SEC title that year for LSU with Auburn.

I switched fully over to LSU after Hurricane Katrina, during the evacuation and the return, watching the LSU games because watching those games was something about Louisiana that was normal; when everything else seemed to be disrupted there were the Tigers playing in Death Valley. I didn’t have the Saints that year because they weren’t playing in the damaged Superdome, and there was talk about them being moved to San Antonio. Tiger Stadium had been a triage center as FEMA and the Coast Guard and the Marines air-lifted people out of New Orleans; many of the players were from the city and had relatives and friends and neighbors crammed into their apartments with them. LSU and the campus were instrumental to the rescue efforts, and essentially, a life-line for the city I loved so much. That year LSU moved to Number One in my heart, and they have stayed there ever since.

And the games! My God, LSU games are nail-biters almost always. and from 2005-2007 LSU seemed to almost always pull the game out at the end with some kind of insane end. LSU won the national championship in 2007; the only time a two-loss time did so, and were the first team with more than one loss to be able to lay claim to the national title in over forty years. There were so many great moments that year–including the insane come from behind win over Auburn. With time running out and the ball on the thirty yard line, one point behind…quarterback Matt Flynn threw a pass to the end zone that was caught to win the game 30-24 with one second left on the clock.

There have been many games like that since–the Tigers don’t always pull them out, but they do more often than they don’t. Last year’s Auburn game was the same–a touchdown pass completed to win the game as time ran out, only to have the officials rule the ball was snapped after time ran out and nullified the touchdown.

Coach Les Miles was fired after that game.

This year’s LSU team hasn’t looked good. Paul and I went to watch the lackluster win over BYU in the Superdome to start the season; we went to the season opener in Baton Rouge to see another lackluster win over a second-tier team. LSU was blown out at Mississippi State, but still managed to stay ranked….until they lost two weeks ago against Troy in Tiger Stadium; the first loss for LSU against a non-conference opponent since 2000. Somehow they managed to upset Florida 17-16 the next week in Gainesville…but this weekend, Auburn was ranked Number 10, rolling over everyone they played. Mississippi State, who had beaten LSU by thirty points, lost to Auburn 49-10. No one had high hopes…even though Auburn hadn’t won in Baton Rouge since 1999.

That year, after beating LSU 41-7, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and some of his players walked out onto the field to the tiger eye at the fifty yard line to triumphantly smoke cigars. It was an insult no one here has forgotten….and Auburn has lost every time they’ve played here since.

After forcing Auburn to kick a field goal to go up 20-0, LSU scored to make it 20-7. Auburn managed another field goal, but LSU scored in the closing seconds of the first half to make it 23-14, and were getting the ball back first in the second half. A comeback wasn’t out of the question….but on that first possession they had to punt, and despite keeping Auburn from getting a first down, a stupid penalty gave Auburn another set of downs and it was time for us to go.

I was certain the game was over.

I checked my phone later in the lounge as we ate hors d’oeuvres and drank wine in the lounge while waiting for it to be time for our dinner reservation–and lo and behold, the score was now 23-21 with about ten minutes left. I kept hitting refresh and BOOM! LSU kicked a field goal to finally go ahead 24-23.

They held on, kicking another field goal with just seconds left in the game to go up 27-23…and somehow pulled it off.

I still can’t believe I missed seeing it.

Geaux Tigers! I hope to see a replay of the game at some point.

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Death Valley: where dreams come to die.

I’ll Tumble 4 Ya

I slept very well last night and woke up to sunshine this morning. Nate kept turning to the east as he headed for land last night. We didn’t even get high winds here at the Lost Apartment; and just a little sprinkling rain. He also came ashore much sooner than originally anticipated; the weather at the Michigan-Michigan State game looked much worse than it was here. LSU also won yesterday, a nail-biting and highly nerve-wracking 17-16 win over Florida in Gainesville, which we watched while we waited for Nate to arrive.

I’m enjoying Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, and it has a lot of interesting things to say about modern society and the zombie apocalypse; basically, the theme is that modern society is just as much a zombie apocalypse as an actual one. And it’s an interesting world he’s building there, with his post-apocalyptic Manhattan. This is a zombie novel, but it’s also literary; I appreciate Whitehead’s take on zombies, but it’s more literary than zombie, if that makes sense. I’ll keep reading it, because it has a lot to say, and the insights and language are quite lovely…but nothing has happened, really, and I am about 100 pages in. When you compare that to, say, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, which is only about 170 pages long…I decided yesterday that the thing to do was read it along with something else; maybe a chapter or two a day of Whitehead while reading something else more traditionally horror. I got started on two more books that didn’t pass the fifty-page-test and went into the donation pile, and then started Stephen Graham Jones’ Mongrels, which is pretty interesting so far. The voice is pitch-perfect; and I am curious to see where it goes. I found a couple of more books in the TBR pile to add to the Halloween Horror Read-a-thon; let’s hope those pass muster.

I didn’t get as much done yesterday as I would have liked; I did go to the grocery store but failed to get the things I really went for–so was unable to make Swedish meatballs for dinner last night. (Seriously, the most important things to get were ground sirloin and heavy cream…the two things I didn’t get.) So, today I am going to focus on getting things done. I did get the filing done yesterday, and today I need to make a packing list for the trip; a to-do list for the week; a submissions spreadsheet for the agent search and short stories; and I need to clean. I am also going to go back to the beginning of the Scotty and start revising, to write my way out of the hole I’ve gotten myself into. I’ll take the other WIP with me to Toronto to make notes. I’ve also relaunched my wrestling blog, which I kind of let slide for the last years or so, with a goal of posting at least once or twice a week. That’s something that’s just fun for me; I need to do fun things periodically in order to keep my writing fun. I was thinking last night about a short story I wrote, that was in the collection Wanna Wrestle?, and how much thought I put into structuring it and the story I wanted to tell…I think I might rush my short stories a bit, just coming up with the idea and not thinking about it before I start writing it, which could be why I am so not-confident about them as I should be.

Something definitely to consider.

And on that note, this spice isn’t going to mine itself.

Here’s a hunk to get the week started for you, Constant Reader.

 

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Time (Clock of the Heart)

Good morning! ‘Tis Sunday in the Lost Apartment, and Paul is still asleep. I’m on my second cup of coffee, and my back is a little sore. I’m also dehydrated; which means I’m going to have to guzzle down water at some point–probably when I’m finished with coffee for the day. We’re supposed to meet some friends down in the Quarter later on this afternoon; so hydration is going to be key.

We went to the LSU-BYU game last night in the Superdome, relocated from Texas because, well, in case you aren’t aware of it, there’s been a major flooding issue in Houston thanks to that rat-bastard Hurricane Harvey. It was the first time we’ve been to an LSU game outside of Tiger Stadium, which also felt kind of weird; it was also weird to go to an LSU game we could have to and from. The game wasn’t sold out; the tickets only went on sale Wednesday and of course, being Labor Day people probably already had made plans, weren’t planning on going to Houston for the game. Still, there were about 53,000 people or so in the Dome–which gets really loud–and I’d say probably about 90% of the people in attendance were LSU fans. (Reading a write-up on the game from the Salt Lake newspaper this morning, I laughed when the reporter said Apparently there’s a side split canyon to Death Valley in New Orleans.  So, while the crowd was partisan Tiger fans primarily it still wasn’t a home game and that seemed weird when you’re used to Tiger Stadium. They also had the Dome at an arctic climate so I was cold, and by the fourth quarter I had goosebumps from the cold that wouldn’t go away. All the reports I read of the game was that it was a dominating performance by LSU, and it kind of was; the defense smothered the Cougar offense which never crossed the fifty yard line, and limited them to maybe four or five, at most, first downs. They also got an amazing interception that was just beautifully played. The LSU offense was…well, it got the job done but wasn’t particularly exciting other than a long pass from Danny Etling that set up the second LSU touchdown in the second quarter after the interception. (LSU scored two touchdowns quickly; after an initial drive, they kicked off and on BYU’s first play after that came the interception.) But we also missed a field goal, and didn’t make a 4th and 1 from the one-yard line.

I’m not sure how confident I am that this is going to be a great season. But it’ll be fun to watch–it always is–and there were some terrific plays in the game last night. Afterward Paul and I walked home from the Superdome. We got home shortly after midnight, and I read for a while before going to bed.

This morning, I’m going to relax and rest and gird my loiB57D1D19-BE70-4E9F-BAC5-D5AF8D7314C6s for going down to the Quarter. I still have tomorrow off–my back is a little sore from doing Outreach last night and the walking last night–so hopefully tomorrow I can sleep in, get some good rest, let my back stop hurting, and get some writing down. I’ll probably try to get Chapter 4 finished today, and maybe even start Chapter 5. We shall see.

And here’s a nice shot of the Tiger band from last night.

 

Puttin’ on the Ritz

Sunshine and blue skies out there this morning, which is lovely, particularly since we are on the eve of Southern Decadence. Revellers will, of course, begin to arrive today, building to peak gayness on Friday night. I will be out on the corner at St. Ann and Bourbon tomorrow from 430-9 pm, passing out condom packs (four condoms, free lube!) with my co-workers. If you’re around, come say hey. It will be hot and humid, of course, but it’s always fun to stand out there and watch the crowd while trying to convince people to have safer sex.

The LSU-BYU tickets went on sale yesterday for the game relocated to the Superdome this Saturday night, and yes, I did set my phone alarm for 4 (when tickets went on sale to the general public) so I could get us tickets. And I was successful! Woo-hoo! It’s going to be so much fun; LSU playing a name opponent in the Dome; the season opener, and we can walk. Yes, I am in walking distance of the Superdome–although we’ll most likely take the streetcar and get off at the Girod Street stop. I am so excited! And I can’t believe it’s football season again already. August certainly flew right past, didn’t it? I’m not sure how good LSU will be this year–first full season under a new coach, lots of starters gone to graduation–but LSU football is always fun to watch.

I also got some great work done on Scotty yesterday. It started flowing, and I think I’ve found his voice again–it usually takes me a couple of chapters on a new Scotty to get there–and seriously, opening Chapter Four with this sentence: There really is no family bonding experience like rolling up a dead body in a carpet made me laugh out loud as I wrote it (it just sprang into my head) and then the next few paragraphs literally just flew out from my fingers. Chapter Four is a transitional chapter, which I hope to get finished today (those always take longer to write) but after coming up with that opening for the chapter, the rest should be relatively easy–because once I came up with that sentence, the rest of the chapter opened up in my mind, and I figured out how to flow Chapter Four into Chapter Five.

Huzzah!

So, I am now going to head back into the spice mines on this fine day before I head into the office.

Here’s your Throwback Thursday hunk, actor Glenn Corbett, from his early physique model days.

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Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

Wednesday; the week is half-over–although I am also working on Saturday; my weekend this week will be Sunday and Monday, which is lovely. My birthday is also nigh; I shall be fifty-six! Closer to sixty than fifty, but hey, there you go, you know? Getting older is not for the faint of heart, someone once said, and while there are definitely more aches and pains, and my memory isn’t what it used to be, and I don’t quite have the energy I once had–I ain’t doing too badly. Yesterday I managed to get some significant work done on Scotty; the book is really taking shape in my mind, and I also got some work done on the line edit. I am not as far along on the line edit as I would like to be, but I am getting closer to being done with each bit that I do.

Progress. It’s everything, really.

I’m enjoying the Eric Ambler novel, Journey Into Fear, that I’m reading, and am hoping to get some more of that read today at some point. I like the way Ambler writes, and there’s just this amazing sense of 40’s noir to the story and the writing; I can visualize everything in my head really easily. Writing something in a different time period–one that I didn’t live through–is kind of intimidating to me; I’ve only written one story that is set in a time period before I was alive; set ambiguously in either the late 40’s or early 50’s, it’s a noir story that still need some work. The title, “The Weight of a Feather,” is one of my favorite titles, so I am pretty determined to do something with the story.

So many stories, so little time. Seriously.

Football season looms on the horizon as well; not sure how well LSU is going to do this year, but as always we have high hopes down here in Bayou Country. New coaches, new offense and defensive plans…I guess we’ll see how it’s going to play out at the season opener over Labor Day weekend in Houston when we play BYU. And football season is, as a general rule, kind of exciting. Ten years ago was the last time LSU won the national championship, in that insane year of 2007 which was one of the wackiest football seasons of all time; from week to week no one had any idea of who was going to win and who was going to lose; Top Ten teams would get beaten by someone unranked every week. SBNation has a great website about that crazy year; I wasted some serious time reading and remembering the other day.

And on that note, ’tis time to return to Ye Olde Spice Mines.

Here’s your Wednesday hunk.

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