Thank God It’s Christmas

And now it’s Christmas morning, with tidings of great joy and all that. It’s thirty-six degrees in New Orleans and our Hard Freeze Warning doesn’t let up until nine this morning, but it’s still not exactly going to be warm or anything. But that’s fine. I have lots to do today and I slept in again (it’s been marvelous, sleeping late this long weekend but it’s going to make getting up Tuesday morning in the cold difficult, I fear) and feel rested this morning. Which is a very good thing, don’t get me wrong on that. But when I finish this I need to clean up the dishes from yesterday before I dive back into my Donna Andrews Christmas read for a bit before I dive headfirst back into the book. I did get some writing done yesterday–didn’t make the quota, so will have to make up for that today as well as meet today’s–and I am enjoying Donna’s book tremendously. After Paul got home from his trainer, I gave up on reading and we settled in to watch some movies: See How They Run (great cast, clever concept, not completely executed properly); The Banshees of Inisherin (not seeing how that was nominated for comedy Golden Globes, unless it’s such dark humor that I completely missed it. There are some terrific performances in it, though); All Quiet on the Western Front (a remake of the Oscar winning classic; perhaps one of the grimmest and darkest looks at how miserable war really is and definitely an Oscar contender); and finally–well, I don’t remember the fourth film we watched last night before going to bed, which is probably not a good sign of either its memorability or my memory. Maybe it’ll come to me as I write this, who knows?

I made pulled turkey for Christmas Eve, with an eye to not having to cook anything today, and I bought too much. I usually get one of those small boneless turkey breasts from Butterball, but I couldn’t find one anywhere this week, but Friday they had turkey breasts at Rouse’s, so that’s what I got. It was twice the size of what I usually get–and we can never really finish eating–and it had bones. It barely fit into the crockpot but…it was delicious when it was finished, much better than those boneless ones, and I can’t help but wonder if the bones somehow make a difference? It was a time shredding the meat (since there were bones), and I made some Stove Top to go with it (I can make real cornbread dressing from scratch like my mom makes, but it’s a shit ton of work and it makes a shit ton of dressing, which we would never be able to completely eat). But today I shouldn’t have to cook anything, other than maybe a grilled cheese for lunch or something, and once I finish this I am going to clean the kitchen and read for a little while before getting cleaned up and diving back into the book.

It’s also a very short work week at the office, since tomorrow I have off as a holiday and so only have three days in the office this week preparatory to another three day weekend this coming weekend. There will be football games to watch over that weekend, which will make it much harder to get writing done, but the book must be turned in on January 1. I am trying not to feel guilty about not getting any more writing done yesterday and for leaving the apartment in such a mess, but one of the things I’ve become more aware of as I get older is that I need more down time to recover and regroup and recharge. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course, other than I think I used to not need the recovery time nearly as much as I do now. Then again, it’s also entirely possible I simply don’t remember and it’s merely yet another memory lie my mind is telling me, allowing me to look backward through rosy lenses to see things as markedly better in the past than they are in the present. That’s always the trick of getting older–your mind always wants you to believe that things were better or easier or made more sense in the past, when that wasn’t true; the struggle was simply different back then than it is now, but there’s always some kind of struggle going on in people’s lives. We are also masters at hiding our struggles from other people–I know there have been many times in the past when I wondered how other people managed to do so well while I was doing so poorly; now with the “wisdom” of age and experience I know they were probably all struggling too, I just didn’t know it or was too self-absorbed to notice.

Probably more of that latter part, actually.

The Saints did win yesterday, which was lovely–I had the game on in the background while I read, and then once Paul and I started watching See How They Run I followed it on my iPad and Twitter–but I am finding I am not caring much about the post-season for college football. I’ll watch LSU’s bowl game with Purdue, but other than that, I don’t care very much. I always say that, but inevitably always end up watching the national title game, regardless. I have no stake in the game, other than wanting SEC dominance to continue, and quite frankly, I’ve turned a bit on Georgia–their decision to go for two when up thirty against LSU in the conference title game so they could hit fifty left a sour taste in my mouth; enjoy your run while it lasts, Bulldogs, because your day will come again. And if you think LSU’s players, coaches and fans won’t remember that for the rest of time, think fucking again.

Then again, Joe Burrow did make the Dogs look like a high school second string in 2018 and 2019, so maybe there was some payback there from them, I don’t know. But Cajuns and Louisianans have long memories and will carry a grudge to the grave; and on that score I am definitely an honorary Cajun. (I said to a friend the other day, “I may not remember the reason, but I remember the grudge.”)

So, on that cheerful holiday note, I bid you adieu as I head into the spice mines, Constant Reader. Have a lovely day, whether you celebrate the holiday or not; at least have a lovely free day from worry or care, and I’ll check in which you again later.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Oh, seriously, sometimes I wonder how I manage to still have a career. I did a list of great New Orleans crime novels–a place to get started, because there are a lot of them–for Crime Reads; you can click here to read it. It wasn’t easy narrowing it down to the few I selected, but I also wanted to be certain that the ones I chose were ones I absolutely, positively loved. (The one exception is Dinner at Antoine’s; I read that one as a teenager when I went through a Frances Parkinson Keyes phase–I the King is my absolute favorite) and of course, I didn’t mention James Lee Burke because really, does anyone really need to mention him when it comes to New Orleans and Louisiana crime novels? He’s the uncrowned king of Louisiana crime fiction, plus not picking him relieved me of the duty to figure out which book to choose. (Although I would have undoubtedly gone with The Tin Roof Blowdown, his post Katrina novel, which made me cry several times.)

After making groceries yesterday morning–yes, it’s always smart to go to the Rouses in the CBD on a Saints home-game day, seriously–I came home and relaxed a bit before digging back into the book. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have preferred; yesterday was one of those pulling hen’s teeth days. But the Saints managed to hang on to sweep Atlanta for the season, which is the highlight of their terrible season thus far (but we never lost to the Falcons this season), and then we finished watching Smiley (which is absolutely delightful) and then started Wednesday, which I’d been nervous about starting. I watched the original television version of The Addams Family, and Addams Family Values is one of my top three comedy movies of all time. I am still annoyed that Christina Ricci wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for either film; I’ve been a fan ever since and Wednesday, who didn’t really have much of a role on the original show, became my favorite character. I’d been putting it off, despite the great reviews, because I was worried I’d be disappointed. Constant Reader, I was not. Wednesday is terrific, and Jenna Ortega really nails the part. Catherine Zeta-Jones is fine as Morticia, but it’s hard to replace Anjelica Huston, who was sublime. We wound up bingeing almost the entire first season. Absolutely loving it.

It’s hard to believe this is it, the final countdown to Christmas. It’s this coming weekend, and while we still don’t have a refrigerator–out Christmas gift to ourselves this year–maybe we can get a great deal on one after Christmas. The ones with the freezer on the bottom are apparently all about an inch or two too tall to fit into the cubby where ours goes; it’s the damned unusable cabinets about it that are the problem. I don’t know if the cabinet needs to be torn out or if it can be raised a few inches and remounted on the wall; probably the easiest thing to do is just get the freezer-on-top size that fits and be done with it. It certainly would be the easiest thing to do, really. I just had my heart set on one with the freezer on the bottom–another disappointment I’ll need to learn to live with, apparently.

It’s cold again this morning, still sub-fifty degrees. The new heating system in the Lost Apartment works incredibly well–the only reason I even had the slightest clue that the it was cold outside was how cold the downstairs floor is beneath my socks. It’s supposed to freeze this weekend with a slight potential of snow–SNOW IN NEW ORLEANS (which I really need to write about sometime; the way the city reacts to snow always amuses me in a mean sort of way. Most people down here have no idea how to drive in snow or deal with it in any way, and why would they? It doesn’t snow enough for them to ever get used to driving in it. I don’t think it’s snowed here since before 2010? I don’t remember the last time it snowed here, but I remember the only really big snow we ever had; I just don’t remember what year it was. 2007? 2008? Something like that. But my goal for the holiday weekend is to get everything done that I need to get done on the way home from work on Thursday, so I don’t have to go outside for another four days in the cold. I’ll probably spend a lot of time working feverishly on finishing the book, of course, but will take Christmas day as a holiday from everything.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Y’all have a great Monday, okay? I’ll be back in the dark tomorrow morning.

Red Rover

It’s cold in the Lost Apartment this morning–it’s only forty-two degrees outside; it was fifty when Paul got home from the office last night–and the bed felt marvelous and comfortable and warm so I didn’t want to escape its clutches, seriously–and my coffee cup feels rather lovely in my hands as I sit here in my breakfast nook this morning. The sun is shining, though, and the high for the day is a stunning 56. Hurray!

LSU won despite terrible play yesterday over Arkansas, 13-10, and then Alabama managed to come back to beat Mississippi right after (30-24), which clinched the West division of the conference for the Tigers in perhaps one of the fastest and most surprising turnarounds of all time in college football. LSU was picked to finish fifth in the division (out of seven teams), and the predictions of a maximum of seven wins looked overly optimistic in October. Yet here they are, sitting at 8-2 and going to Atlanta to play Georgia for the conference title. Oregon lost last night, which means LSU would likely move up at spot to the Number 6 ranking, despite how poorly they played–I was actually thinking they might drop a bit, until I saw that Oregon lost–and still have a very outside shot at going to the college football play-offs, if they can win out and somehow defeat the defending national champions the first weekend of December. Paul, who figured out how LSU could play for the national championship in 2007 and predicted every loss that was necessary for it to happen correctly, was mapping it out for me again last night. It’s very tempting to believe, given the impossible, implausible, and improbable season LSU is having, that their luck and this magical season can continue to hold…but regardless of how the season ends, this one was already a win for Tiger fans and Louisiana. (And I still can’t believe we beat Alabama.) But the most amazing thing about this game was true freshman Harold Perkins Jr.’s play. How is this kid a true freshman? He’s basically the reason LSU won yesterday. He is going to be a lot of fun to watch as he matures and develops and gets better.

I also managed to get some work done on the book yesterday–not actually writing, of course, but the planning and working out of the plot so that I can go back and finish revising the first half of it so I can get the second half written. It is highly unlikely at the moment that I will make the 12/1 deadline–but next weekend there aren’t many games on that I think I’d want to watch (the weekend before Thanksgiving is rarely a good football weekend) so I am hopeful that I will have that day to spend writing on the book in addition to the rest of the week. The Thanksgiving trip to Kentucky is going to wreak havoc on my writing schedule, but I am still rather confident that if I buckle down and shut off distractions, I can still make my deadline.

Hope springs eternal.

Today we are having lunch at Lula, a restaurant in our neighborhood, with friends in from out of town. Ordinarily I would have a drink or something with lunch, but alas, I have to come home and get to work, little as I want to–I’d much rather do nothing for the rest of the day, frankly; its cold, which makes it a perfect day for watching television under my blanket in my easy chair with a purring kitty in my lap, but alas and alack, that won’t be possible until this evening. Paul wanted to watch the Falwell documentary God Forbid which I’d watched while he was gone, so it was on while I idly scrolled through social media–by the time Paul got home I was exhausted, and the Auburn-Texas A&M game was on but I wasn’t paying much attention to it. I guess exhausted is the wrong word to use, as I didn’t do anything that could have exhausted me yesterday–maybe fatigue is more correct? I get fatigued much easier than I ever used to before, since having COVID this past summer–and it’s often very sudden. One moment I will be fine, the next I am falling asleep in my chair and am so tired getting out of the chair requires almost too much effort. Maybe it’s an after-effect of the COVID, maybe I am just getting older, maybe it’s a combination of the two. I do have a doctor’s appointment in January for my biannual check-up, and I should probably ask him about it. Advocate for yourself with your doctor, dumbass.

We also started watching the second season of Young Royals on Netflix, but somehow it defaulted to the dubbed version, which I hate. I don’t like it when what they’re saying doesn’t match the lip movements. I was too tired to figure out how to switch it to Swedish with American subtitles (it still amuses me to remember how much I didn’t want to read subtitles in the olden days), and maybe I can get that done before we continue watching tonight.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, everyone, and GEAUX SAINTS!

What’s the World Coming To?

Work-at-home Friday morning and all is quiet in the Lost Apartment so far. There’s a load re-tumbling in the dryer and another in the washing machine waiting for the dryer to free up; the dishwasher needs to be emptied so I can refill it back up again. I have lots of work-at-home duties to get finished today as well as all kinds of other things I have to get done later when I am finished with work. Heavy heaving sigh, but that’s always the way, isn’t it? More to do than I have time to do it in. C’est la vie, y’all.

I was tired when I got home from work yesterday. I started the laundry and had intended to do the dishes as well–but Scooter had been alone for hours and needed attention, so I decided to get the laundry started and give him about twenty minutes of nap time in my lap–which is usually all he wants. I was rather surprised and nonplussed as I cycled through sportscaster conversations on Youtube about this college football season–including wrap-ups of last weekend’s game plus looking ahead to this weekend’s–and the next thing I knew hours had passed and I’d even started drifting in and out of naps. When he finally got up and went upstairs for either water or the litter box, I moved a load from the washer to the dryer and started another one before His Majesty returned, demanding my lap back. Paul came home a little later and we finished off Big Mouth as well as caught up on this week’s episodes of American Horror Story: NYC, which is now, finally, starting to go off the rails after wrapping up a storyline that was actually rather well-composed. I guess the rest of the season will be the usual Ryan Murphy shitshow.

I guess it was too much to hope that the gayest season ever of the show would turn out not to be a pitiful, poorly plotted and paced mess.

But the good news is I feel rested today, so there’s hope for a productive and effective day for me today. Huzzah!

Now, where was I? Oh yes, I’d started talking about A Streetcar Named Murder yesterday, didn’t I, in a blatant attempt at self-promotion hoping to encourage you to preorder my new book! I should probably bring it up every day until Pub Day, or should I simply plan out some promotional posts I can work on and post every few days? I am sure anyone who follows me on social media or reads this would gradually tire of reading about my new, exciting book which takes my career into a new, exciting direction, wouldn’t they? I know I eventually tire of the BSP of others–unless they are friends, in which case I wholeheartedly encourage them to promote the fuck out of themselves–which also governs sometimes how much of it I do. I got very self-conscious about it, which probably goes back to that horrible “don’t praise yourself” mentality I was raised with and have talked about before–and whether or not that is a good message for young people (stay humble), it’s not a great one for someone destined to go into a field that requires you to talk up yourself. Heavy sigh. The need to self-promote and the need to be humble are constantly at war inside my head, which is yet another example of why precisely Greg is not entirely sane.

But I am very proud of this book. It’s a departure in many ways for me, and while writing it was hellish–not the fault of the book or the publisher, simply the timing of its writing–I am very proud of it. I mean, given the hellish circumstances surrounding me when I was writing it, it’s not only a miracle it was written but a miracle there’s not a body count from that period. I think it’s a good book–it did occur to me last night dope, you wrote a book set in New Orleans during football season and didn’t mention the Saints once–and despite that blasphemy, it reads easily and well and it’s a nice little story. I think my main character is relatable and likable, and I think readers can identify with her. I wasn’t sure, but all the advance readers liked it (or said they did) and the prepublication trade reviews have all been positive, so I think I did a fairly good job on it. But more on that later. I think it makes more sense to simply write promotional entries where I talk about the book and inspirations and so forth and keep them separate from these daily “Life of Greg” entries.

And having made that decision I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

Illume

Yesterday LSU announced that the game Saturday night registered on the campus seismograph twice: once when Jayden Daniels scored the overtime touchdown, and then again minutes later when the two-point conversion worked. I had thought this had happened several times since the famed Earthquake Game in 1988 against Auburn, when Tommy Hodson threw a touchdown pass on fourth down with less than two minutes left in the game to tie, with the extra point that followed given LSU a one-point lead that held. I would have thought it might happen during the 1997 Florida game, when the Tigers ended several Florida winning streaks as well as their Number One ranking on the season; during the 2003 Georgia game when Matt Mauck threw the winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go; or during either the 2007 Auburn game or the 2007 Florida game, but I was incorrect. The next time Tiger Stadium registered on the seismograph was during this summer’s Garth Brooks concert there, when he played “Calling Baton Rouge”–people who lived within a mile of the stadium didn’t hear the concert, but they could hear the crowd singing–and then twice this past Saturday night.

I still can’t believe LSU won that game. I may never believe it. I still, three days later, wake up every morning and the first thing I do is check to make sure I didn’t dream it.

So it’s Tuesday, the time has changed and it’s no longer dark when I get up in the morning. It’s kind of gray out there at the moment, as the sun hasn’t truly risen yet–so there’s a weird kind of wintry gloom outside, and I really hated coming home in the dark yesterday. My sleep still hasn’t adjusted yet–wide awake at five this morning, but stayed in bed anyway–and I am not sure how well I actually am sleeping since the time change. Yesterday morning I felt fine and didn’t really fade until I got home–and then I faded, big time. I even forgot the Saints game was last night. Paul had a meeting so he had to go into his office; I didn’t remember to turn on the game until it was already past half-time. I fell asleep while watching, and since Paul wasn’t home yet by nine thirty I just went to bed (they lost; I just checked the score. We Saints fans are indeed terribly spoiled) and I didn’t even hear Paul come home–Scooter is still cuddling with me when I go to bed still, even with Paul home–so I must have slept much better than I initially thought this morning when I first got up.

I also need to remember to vote when I get home from work today.

I did work on cleaning up the opening of the book yesterday. I didn’t get very far, but I did manage to switch the two things that I needed to switch at the beginning (anything else would be a spoiler, sorry) and so the revision is already starting to come together. Progress is progress, and I also had some–not much, but some–luck in cleaning out my email inbox. There’s still a lot that I have to get done in addition to working on the book, but as long as the book keeps moving forward, I am fine with it. I am really worried about getting it done on time–the Thanksgiving trip is going to seriously fuck with me–but the LSU game this weekend is at eleven in the morning, and while I do indeed want to watch the Alabama-Mississippi game to see if LSU can clinch the division, I should be able to spend some serious time working this weekend.

Oh, the box of books arrived yesterday! How cool is that? It’s been almost eighteen years since I’ve had a hardcover release, so needless to say that was a bit of a thrill for me. Huzzah! I posted a picture of the box yesterday–I know, I know, the thing is unboxing videos for Instagram stories and Tik Tok but I’ve always just posted pictures of the open box and I am not going to change that now, no matter what the cool kids are doing. I’ve never been one of the cool kids, have long since given up on caring about whether I was cool or not, and am smart (or experienced) enough now to know I will never be one of the cool kids. That’s a lot of pressure I used to put on myself gone, frankly. I am still working on the “completely not giving a shit whether someone likes me or not”; I am much better than I used to be about that but it still occasionally rears its ugly head from time to time. I would imagine that is something that I will never get over completely, but at least now I can see it happening and can make an attempt to try to stop it before it becomes a problem. Anyway, I need to start amping up pre-release promotion. Have you preordered your copy yet?

I am terrible at this. It really is a wonder I have a career, isn’t it?

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. I have so much to do…it is to weep.

Save Me

Sunday morning and I guess there’s probably a Saints game today? I am a terrible fan this year–I can’t seem to remember ever to check on the schedule to see when the games are, so maybe it’s my fault they’re having a really terrible year? (Yes, Greg, because that’s exactly how professional sports work…)

The sun is bright this morning–it was gloomy, overcast and humid yesterday; I also got rained on while running my errands. I am having my morning cappuccino, which is marvelous, and feel like I again slept extremely well again last night. Ironically, despite the same feeling yesterday morning, I succumbed to fatigue much earlier than I thought I would yesterday, which didn’t bode well for getting things done the way I had hoped and/or wanted to. So, no, I wound up not getting nearly as much done yesterday as I had originally hoped I would; but I am also still at the point where I think any progress is better than no progress so I am taking the day as a win. I did have the football games on in the background while I tried to get things done around here, and they kind of turned out the way I figured they would: Mississippi taking down Texas A&M; Tennessee embarrassing Kentucky; and Georgia made a fool out of Florida. Missouri surprised South Carolina, and Arkansas embarrassed Auburn at home. The big surprise of the day was the way Kansas State embarrassed top ten ranked Oklahoma State–no one, I think, saw that coming. But this weekend did a good job of setting up next weekend: the winner of LSU-Alabama takes control of the West, while whoever wins Georgia-Tennessee will do the same in the East. I try not to get involved in the whole “conspiracy theory” aspect of fandom, in which some controlling elite wants certain outcomes to drive their ratings, but I can’t help but think everyone at ESPN and all the college football reporters are hoping for an Alabama win, to make the Alabama-Mississippi game matter in two weeks as a “winner takes all” battle for supremacy in the West. I don’t expect LSU to win, honestly; that’s almost too much to hope for (although I do hope it happens), and all I am really hoping for is another great game, not a blow out.

I think the weather had something to do with the doldrums I was suffering from yesterday. I don’t have that same feeling this morning, but at the same time I think maybe not waking up three mornings in a row to an alarm helps make me feel more rested for some reason. It doesn’t make sense (little does, really, when it comes to my mind and my theories about my life and so forth), but I am hoping that once I get this done and the kitchen repaired a bit (the sink has dishes, things need to be put away) I can dive into working on the writing and some other things I want to get done. I’m going to take a break momentarily after finishing this to read a short story by Paul Tremblay, after which I’ll get cleaned up and get a move on with everything.

Or so I hope, at any rate.

I watched an episode of American Horror Stories before I went to bed last night–the one called “The Lake”–and it was much better than the earlier episodes I’d seen. Alicia Silverstone, Teddy Sears, and pretty young Bobby Hogan were an appealing cast, and while the story was terribly derivative (the curse of towns flooded by dams is an old trope; there’s a great German show with a similar premise–but it’s also a trope I’ve always wanted to use as well), the acting was fine and the ending–while a little like The Fog, it worked within the construct of the story and was really the only way for it to actually come to an end. It reminded me, in some ways, of another idea I had for a story a long time ago–about college kids camping out in ghost town in the Sierra mountains in California that I’ve always wanted to write–but who knows if I will ever get around to that or not? It was entertaining, though, and now of course it’s Sunday–several of the shows we watch drop episodes on Sundays, but I can’t watch any of them until Paul gets home. Heavy sigh. Although I think tonight I’ll rewatch Halloween–the original. It is, after all, the seminal slasher movie and the one that kicked off the slasher craze of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s (along with Friday the 13th).

On the other hand, one can never go wrong with Scream, for that matter.

Well, I can figure out what I am going to watch later, right? It’s not like it is of the utmost importance to figure this out right now, either.

Or maybe I’ll watch a horror movie I’ve never seen before–there were so many in their heyday that I’ve not seen them all, like Terror Train or Prom Night–then again, on the other hand, there are so many it’s entirely possible I’ve seen some of them and forgotten that I have, as well. My memory is no longer trustworthy, after all–as I am finding out while writing this book–which makes me wish I’d written more things down over the years or been more faithful to keeping a journal; I’ve never been as faithful to a journal as I have been to this blog, for example. Yet another reason why I don’t write a memoir or many personal essays; I don’t trust my memory, and I know I have most likely revised my own personal history to make myself more of the hero of the story than I should be–it’s something we all do, really; it’s also how we perceive things, through our own lenses with all of our foibles and miscues and flaws helping to interpret and record things in that great back-up hard drive inside our skulls. We are all the heroes of our own story, even if we are the villain in someone else’s.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow morning.

Oh Diane

Monday morning and a good morning to you all. I feel rested this morning, if a bit intimidated by what all I have to get down this week but I’m just going to update and make a new to-do list this morning and just start working my way down it, you know? I was still a little unwell yesterday–I used to be able to shake of a mild fever and still get things done, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I feel better this morning–I always feel better in the mornings; it tends to come on during the course of the day, alas–so I’m hoping whatever mild thing that was is over and no more. I don’t have any COVID tests here at home (note to self: pick some up today at the office) so I can’t test myself until I get to work, but I don’t think that’s what this is (but better safe than sorry, just in case). I did manage to get some writing done yesterday–not very good writing, but it got done–and I read more of ‘salem’s Lot, which still holds up remarkably well (I just got to the part where Danny Glick dies…oops, spoiler). I know King was going for a more Gothic type style in this book (he patterned it along the lines of Dracula, if I recall correctly) and that sense of brooding and creepiness is there to very good effect. As I said yesterday, it would be edited down today by at least a third if King were a new writer; and I think the shorter books we get nowadays kind of do us a disservice, as both readers and writers? That could also explain why I always feel like my own books don’t cover enough material and so forth–because the books I grew up reading were longer than the books getting published today and the ones that I myself am writing.

We watched The Serpent Queen, House of the Dragon, and Interview with the Vampire last evening (I couldn’t watch the Saints game yesterday–the games are too stressful plus it was hard for me to not root for Joey Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase to do well, so my loyalties were divided which made it more stressful, and this morning I feel like I’ve betrayed the Saints), all of which are getting more interesting. The Serpent Queen has begun to deviate from the actual history–dramatically so, especially in light of last night’s episode–which is disappointing but understanding; the great game of politics in the mid-sixteenth century was insanely complex, so I can see why they’d want to simplify it in order for it to be more easily digested by the audience as most Americans have no clue about anything that happened in that century outside of easily digestible bits without nuance: Henry VIII had six wives; religious conflict; Bloody Mary, Spanish Armada and Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded.

It always cracks me up how everyone loved Game of Thrones but get bored about the real history that puts Martin to shame, really.

I’m plowing ahead on the book even though I know Chapter 5 is a sloppy, disgusting and terrible mess. I need to get the rest of the draft done so I can go through it and start fixing things; I’ll probably need to fix some of it before I can move on to Chapter 6 but the plan this week is to move ahead and try to get as much done as possible so the first draft can be finished by the end of the month so I can then spend the rest of December making the fixes it so desperately needs (I think the primary problem with it is that it’s out of order; I crammed too much into the beginning of the book and now I need to go back and put it in the proper context and order, which will all be a part of the extensive revision process this book is going to be sorely in need of…which just makes me tired, frankly, to think about.). I am trying very hard not to get horribly stressed about everything I need to get done…

And I have a book coming out in six weeks. YIKES.

I missed a short story deadline from this past weekend, which is a shame. But I didn’t feel well all weekend, really–I know the flu shot doesn’t get anyone sick, but can I help it if every time I get one I do? It just seems like an odd coincidence that almost every time I get a flu shot I spend the next few days not feeling 100%–and I hate the feel of a low grade fever. Either go big or go home, god damn it! But my body seems to be sliding back into the normal routine of Monday thru Thursday in the office and Friday as my work-at-home; which I am hoping means that once I get home every night, I can be certain to do some work and chores around the house before settling into my easy chair, exhausted, to wind down before going to bed. We’re all caught up now on our weekly shows, so can go back to Diary of a Gigolo, which is interesting and fun to watch, if a little complicated and sometimes hard to follow–but Spanish-language shows are so much better and faster moving than English language counterparts; they never have a filler episode like so many American shows do to pad out their seasons.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Big Love

Sunday morning and another good night’s sleep. The bed was enormously comfortable and I didn’t want to get up–knowing how much I had to do today–but c’est la vie; I knew that was going to be the case. I felt unwell most of the day yesterday–slightly feverish, low energy, no appetite–which was probably my usual flu-shot reaction (I know you aren’t supposed to get sick, but I always have a reaction to a flu shot) and I stupidly had them give it to me in the same arm I got my COVID booster injected into, so my left arm was achy and sore all day yesterday. It was okay, I knew I needed to just rest and relax, and fortunately, it was college football Saturday, so I curled up in my chair and started watching college games when the chores I was doing eventually wore me out and I had to retire to my easy chair with ‘salem’s Lot (more on that later) while watching games–and the two I wound up watching (Alabama-Tennessee and LSU-Florida) were pretty epic games.

The Tennessee-Alabama game was amazing, and deepest sympathies to my Tide friends; what a stinging loss, and to a bitter rival–even if it’s one you’ve beaten every year since 2006 (it was Nick Saban’s first loss to Tennessee at Alabama; he also had some pretty memorable wins over them at LSU). 52-49 was the final score, with the Tide missing a last-minute field goal with the Volunteers making theirs to hold off the furious Alabama comeback and capture the biggest win in Knoxville in decades. One thing you have to give Alabama–their losses are almost always incredible games because they never give up.

I didn’t have very high hopes for my Tigers going into the Florida game. Like Alabama-Tennessee, it’s a rivalry game (I don’t know how that happened or came about; maybe it’s because we are both swamp states with a large alligator population? I honestly don’t know, but it’s true) that has mostly been dominated by Florida throughout the series–but LSU has been catching up. The series record is now 33-33-3; tied. LSU has won four in a row against Florida for the first time since 1977-1980 (when Bear Bryant was still at Alabama, Florida had no national titles and LSU only had one), and because it had been so long since LSU won four straight, I figured history would be telling and LSU didn’t have much of a chance. The game was also the first between new coaches for both teams. LSU has won 8 of the last 10 games in the rivalry–losing in 2012, 2016, and 2018–and has won 10 of 13. And for the first time this season LSU looked good; usually this year they’ve fallen behind very quickly in the first half and had to dig their way back out, but not yesterday. Florida’s opening drive last two plays before they went up 7-0 and I thought oh, here we go again but LSU matched every Florida score and then added another just before half-time to take a 28-21 lead; by the end of the third quarter the score was 42-21 and despite a furious Florida comeback in the fourth (similar to Alabama’s, actually), held on to win 45-35. Nerve wracking, but exciting–and it was nice to see LSU finally starting to gel as a team. The schedule doesn’t get easier now–we have Mississippi, a bye, then Alabama followed by Arkansas and Texas A&M–and two of those teams are currently sitting in the Top Ten. LSU and Alabama are tied for second place in the division behind Mississippi, which makes both of those games crucial for all three teams (Mississippi and Alabama have yet to play as well; Alabama also plays LSU and Mississippi back to back) so it’s going to be an interesting November in the SEC West–while the Tennessee-Georgia showdown in the East also looms.

And the sting of the blowout loss to Tennessee at home doesn’t seem quite so horrific now that Tennessee has also beaten Alabama and scored 52 points to do it. I think that’s the most points scored on Nick Saban? It may even be the most points ever scored on Alabama? You just never think of any team ever scoring fifty points on the Tide. It’s definitely a weird season. And of course, Mississippi is coming to Baton Rouge in almost the same position they were in back in 2014, when they were 7-0 and ranked third; LSU won 10-7. This is only the third time Mississippi has started a season 7-0 (the other was 1962). Definitely an interesting season when there’s a chance that the SEC Title game could be between two unbeatens–but instead of Georgia-Alabama, which is what everyone was expecting, it could be Tennessee-Mississippi. How weird would that be? Tennessee hasn’t been in the title game since 2007, and Mississippi never has.

Definitely a weird college season, but very happy with my Tigers. It’s always lovely to beat Florida.

And today the Saints play the Bengals, which brings Joey Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase back to the Superdome for the first time since the 2020 national championship game against Clemson. I think I’ll hav the game on in the background–I can’t root against the Saints under any circumstance, but I also can’t ever root against Joey B and Chase, either.

I did finish reading Interview with the Vampire the other night (I’ll write about it when the TV series is finished), and yesterday I started rereading ‘salem’s Lot, which is one of my favorite novels of all time and was the book that turned me into an unabashed Stephen King fan. I had bought a used hardcover copy on eBay sometime in the past decade (which I also had done with The Shining) and so as I was reading it yesterday I caught a typo–I’d never read this copy of it, and the typo was weird, so I flipped back to the front of the book to discover that it’s a first edition. I don’t think the person selling it knew they could have gotten a lot more for it than I paid for it; it was so inexpensive it never even crossed my mind it was a first edition (I had the same insane luck with a copy of In Cold Blood, getting a hardcover copy off eBay for less than ten bucks, only to have it arrive as a very well-kept first edition…signed by Truman Capote. You never know how lucky you can get on eBay, I guess is the point of this sidebar?) so I was pretty thrilled to see that my copy is actually an undiscovered treasure. Anyway, as I started rereading–and remembering just how great a novel it actually is–I started thinking about length; my longest book is around 100k (I don’t think I’ve ever exceeded 100k in a book, or by much if I did) and the average length for books I am hearing these days is 80k. Out of curiosity, I decided to see how long ‘salem’s Lot is; it’s just over 157k words. As I was rereading it–and enjoying those early chapters again, as King creates the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot so beautifully and perfectly–I also was thinking what would an agent/editor cut out of this to submit it for publication today if this was a first or second time author in modern times? They would cut out a good third of the book, I think; sure, there’s a lot in the story that doesn’t really advance it at all–a lot o the supporting characters and subplots could easily be cut without notice, but at the same time I think that would serve to damage the book and turn it into something else; as I was reading, I kept thinking “this is really just Peyton Place as a horror novel” and that, for me, is one of King’s strengths–the way he writes about small towns, and how interconnected everyone is, and how everyone has dark, dark secrets that aren’t quite as secret as they might prefer. I think when I finish reading this book, I may move on to another King that I’ve not read–there are any number of them in my cabinets; the days when I used to get King on release day (still do that) and then read the entire book within forty-eight hours are long gone, and so many of his book are really long…

And I just checked my email to see that I’ve placed another short story. Woo-hoo! More details on that as they develop.

And now back to the spice mines with me. I am going to have another cup of coffee and go read some more of ‘salem’s Lot before getting cleaned up and getting to work on the book. Have a great Sunday, Constant Reader!

Straight Back

G’morning, Saturday! How you doing? I slept well, woke up sans alarm, and feel kind of rested and good this morning. The sun is ridiculously bright this morning–it was yesterday as well–but that’s fine. Today is a long day of college football, and I have one errand to run this morning later on. Yesterday was a fairly good day; I got my work done during the day and ran the errands that needed running. I made Swedish meatballs (my version of them, any way) for dinner last night, and we settled in to watch the finale of Bad Sisters and of course, Halloween Ends, which was remarkably different than what I was expecting and despite a slow start, turned out rather interestingly after all.

I did think about the book last night while I was waiting for Paul to be ready for television viewing (and while I was doing some chores and making dinner), so I think I may have some success working on it this morning. I am going to try to get this done, put the dishes away and do some other chores before taking a shower and getting cleaned up to work on the book before I have to run the errands. And while I am of course hoping that Alabama cleans Tennessee’s clock today, the LSU game isn’t until this evening so I have the day pretty much all free heading into that, so there’s no reason I can’t get some writing done today and tomorrow (note to self: check the time of the Saints game today so you can plan accordingly). I don’t need to make another grocery run this weekend–or even order anything for pick-up–so I can pretty much plan on having the time to get things done around here. I have to work Monday morning in the clinic (covering for someone) but I also don’t have to be there until eight-thirty, either. Huzzah!

I also want to start rereading ‘salem’s Lot today; but I also have some other things I want to read as well. There never is enough time for everything, seriously. I have a couple of short stories written by friends that I need to look over (I promised feedback months ago) and I also have that Shirley Jackson Edgar-winning story I want to read, too. At some point I want to drive around the city and take pictures of Halloween decorations too–maybe I can take a walk with my phone tomorrow morning around the neighborhood and the Garden District–because I feel like I don’t document life in New Orleans as much as I should.

But then this blog has never really had a theme other than really just being a kind of diary for me, more than anything else, one where I don’t really talk about personal things as much perhaps as I would in a diary but just a way of situating myself and seeing where and how I am every morning. I have some pending entries that I also need to finish–entries talking about other books I’ve written, other books I’ve read and yet not done an entry for yet–and of course that takes time out of my day every day as well as time away from my other writing. But I do have a rather funny one about Nancy Drew and New Orleans I really should finish sometime–I have a weird love/hate thing with Nancy Drew; my OCD required me to collect and read the entire series, yet she was never really a favorite of mine; there were other juvenile series I vastly preferred to both Nancy and The Hardy Boys–but I had wanted to pay homage to Nancy’s adventures in New Orleans in the new Scotty book, so I reread the two books where Nancy came to New Orleans (The Ghost of Blackwood Hall and The Haunted Showboat) and whoo-boy, were they dated, wrong on almost every level, and horrifyingly racist. (Sidebar: I’ve always wanted to write my own juvenile series, similar to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and at the same time I’ve always wanted to write a murder mystery set at a fan convention for one of these series–because I belong to some fan-pages on Facebook and let me tell you, those folks are interesting)

I also have my entry about Donna Andrews’ marvelous Round Up the Usual Peacocks to finish, and I also have a rather lengthy entry about Interview with the Vampire I think I’ll wait to finish until I am done with watching the show.

I am not going to lie, I was curious about Halloween Ends primarily because I absolutely hated the second film in this sequel/reboot series, or whatever the hell it is considered. I was impressed by the creative decisions made on how to handle this absolutely, finally the last chapter (the end definitively ends it, trust me); but I am not entirely sure how I felt about the focus being moved off Laurie and Michael Myers. I guess I was a little disappointed–I was hoping to see, I guess, a balls-to-the-wall Laurie v. Michael battle, which we did kind of get, but it also wasn’t the primary focus of the film? I appreciated the new story as well as the new cast members like Rohan Campbell (who plays Frank on Hulu’s The Hardy Boys reboot), but I came away a little disappointed, but that was due to my own expectations, not any failure of the film itself. (I was also really amused to no end that Kyle Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, who played one of the kids Laurie babysits in the very original Halloween, was brought back to reprise the role in the new trilogy. After listening to her talk about “filming” all season, and “having to focus on learning her lines” while dealing with RHOBH drama…only to watch the actual film to see she has exactly two scenes and at most five lines made me laugh out loud–and of course, Paul shadily said “I find it really hard to believe a bartender in Haddonfield could afford all that plastic surgery” which sent me into gales of laughter. I did enjoy the movie, though, and appreciated the different direction it took. If you’re a fan of Halloween, I think you’ll enjoy it, too–but understand it’s different going in.

All right, on that note I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and GEAUX TIGERS!

Hold Me

I got my bivalent booster yesterday (I think that’s what it’s called) and am hopeful I won’t feel any ill effects from it this morning. If I do, oh, well. I am also taking a long lunch today so I can drive out to UNO to tape Susan Larson’s show The Reading Life to talk about Streetcar, which feels a little strange. I am so deep in the weeds with this new Scotty book that it’s weird to shift back into my Streetcar mentality and talk about a book I wrote over a year ago. Ah, well, we’ll see how it goes, won’t we?

I feel okay this morning. I woke up early–around three–and dozed off and on until the alarm went off. I don’t think the booster has made me unwell (unlike it’s four predecessors), or at least not yet at any rate, but I’m still pretty jazzed that I finally got a vaccination that didn’t even make me slightly feverish for twenty-four hours or so. This is a plus; I was a bit worried about being coherent for the radio taping today because of the booster–but it seems as though my level of incoherence will just be the usual, normal one that I always bring to an interview. *Whew*

I did some terrible work on the book yesterday but it was forward progress and I will take it, you know? The book is a mess, but sometimes the first draft is a mess and needs to be so you can fix it and clean it all up later and turn it into something coherent. That’s the plan, at any rate. Yesterday was a pretty productive day, both at the office and at home; I’m getting some training on how to do more things to go along with my promotion and raise (did I mention that? I think I did), both of which were significant. My job is essentially remaining the same, with some new added responsibilities (which make sense for me to do, really) that I have to learn how to do, and of course Friday I am going into the office to get a flu shot and so I can drop off this wretched cable modem (don’t even get me started on this)–the only Cox office in the city is a few blocks from the office–and then of course it’s the glorious weekend again. LSU is playing Florida on Saturday night (which may be painful; we’ve beaten them three years in a row and the last couple of times they were heavily favored–two years ago was the notorious Shoe Game in which one of their players threw an LSU player’s show twenty yards down the field for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that kept an LSU scoring drive alive; that drive also handed LSU the win; last year’s game was also kind of insane with all kinds of crazy plays and turnovers and so forth), and I should probably check when the Saints are playing–although they seem to do better when I don’t watch this season for some reason–and then plan my weekend around it. I’ve got to do a major push on the book this week and weekend; I’ve got to get back on schedule with this stupid thing.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I had a spell of not feeling so hot there for a moment, and when I was brushing my teeth earlier I noticed that my left shoulder (which is the arm that took the vaccine yesterday) was pretty sore; at least when I move my arm I am very aware of the general vicinity of where it was punctured. I think I can power through, however.

Last night we started watching another Spanish language show (we decided The Midnight Club, while sort of entertaining, wasn’t compelling enough and we can finish it another time) called Diary of a Gigolo, which of course is filled with DRAMA and all kinds of bizarre twists and turns with a rather large cast of characters and a lot of backstory and yet…not a single dull moment nor did we have any confusion about the multitude of plots–which is even more impressive when you realize it was in a foreign language and we were reading subtitles. (I do think there is something to watching shows with the closed captioning turned on; it forces me to pay attention and not let my mind wander–interesting.) I also spent a little time reading Interview with the Vampire while I was waiting for Paul to come downstairs so we could watch television. I am rather looking forward to continuing with Diary of a Gigolo (which, for the record, is far superior to American Gigolo, which just didn’t hold our interest at all) this evening after a conference call I have tonight. Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. May your Tuesday be as amazing as you are, Constant Reader, and I’ll be back in the morning tomorrow to check in yet again.