Second Hand News

Labor Day Monday and I have a nice relaxing day ahead of me of writing and reading and who knows what else? We also leave for Minneapolis the day after tomorrow, which is also kind of exciting. I did make a small run to make groceries yesterday and had a small Costco order delivered. I also watched some tennis (Coco Grauff) and then we watched the LSU Game. Jury’s still out; they played very lackadaisically to me, it seemed; not quite gelled as a team yet, but lots of talented players with some kinks to work out yet. They ended up losing 24-23, could have tied and/or won the game at the end, and rallied from 24-10 down in the closing minutes, so that was promising. I am of course disappointed the comeback failed, but at one point it literally looked like we were going to lose 31-17, and that final drive went ninety-nine yards in sixty-five seconds. So, they could continue to improve and get better, which is a good sign. I impatiently was hoping this could be turned around in one year, but….it even took Saban an off-year before turning Alabama into what it is today. It was a fun weekend of football, to be sure, and I am always happier when it’s football season.

I mean, take away the two fumbled punts, the blocked extra point, and the blocked field goal, and LSU would be 1-0 right now.

I am curious to see how the rest of the season shakes out.

I skim-reread Jackson Square Jazz yesterday, and again, I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the book still reads, roughly nineteen years after release, and again–I really did do a great job with the characters. I am writing an entry about it, of course, and then started skim-rereading Mardi Gras Mambo, too. I really wish I could remember what the plot was in the first two failed attempts to write the book, but maybe it’ll come to me while I skim reread, but I rather doubt it; I forgot those original plots years ago. I am glad that reader asked me about the Scotty books, though. I had figured I’d talked about them often enough that Constant Reader didn’t really need me to write the backstories behind the books in this series, but I am having the most wonderful time revisiting the books and remembering the process that produced each one. And these first three are so far back in my distant past that it’s almost like reading new-to-me books; I always wondered if my own work would ever get to that point, and clearly, they have done so. I’m not sure how to feel about it, but I imagine Philip Roth didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about his first couple of books, nor did Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, or Erle Stanley Gardner. (Not that I put myself up there with those greats of crime fiction, but you know what I mean.) We write books and we move on from them to write other books, and the farther in the past those old titles get, the more distance I feel from them and the less I remember about them, which makes them much easier to read (at least for me).

And it’s really helping me get back inside Scotty’s brain and his voice, too. Always a bonus, you know?

Today I am going to take it easy but still get things done. I need to write–which I’ve done woefully little of this weekend–and I also need to overhaul the first three chapters of this book before I can move on with it, which should be taken care of today. (I started to do it yesterday but…Coco Grauff was playing!) I also have some other things to get done today–maybe I should make a list of what all I want to get done today; can’t hurt–including making my packing list for the trip (I checked the weather; I think I can get away with taking a sweat jacket with me rather than a coat; every night it’s supposed to dip into the 60’s, which, as we all know, is the dead of winter to me) and some other loose odds and ends. And the skim-rereading of my books is at least getting me to read again–just wait till Wednesday afternoon at the airport though; I’ll be tearing through that Gabino Iglesias novel like it’s going out of style. I don’t think I’ll finish reading the Iglesias, the King, and the Andrews on the trip, but I am taking a book in reserve just in case–A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren. I also need to prep myself for reading only horror in October, the way I do every year; I know there are some Paul Tremblay and Stephen King and Christopher Golden and some other great horror novels sitting there waiting in my TBR Piles. There’s also some great short stories I should read, too. I am sitting on a Daphne du Maurier novella–“A Border-line Case”–and maybe I should spend some time today reading that?

I do love me some du Maurier (reminder to self: reread My Cousin Rachel).

So, we’re basically sitting on today and tomorrow as interim days. I think the house is in good enough shape as is for us to leave without doing some more cleaning, but I always do some cleaning while I am writing. There’s a load of dishes that need doing, and some other picking up and things needing to be put away, but that’s always the case, isn’t it?

And on that note, I am going to make a to-do list, finish those dishes, and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Labor Day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

7

Landslide

Friday and a three-day weekend looms. Huzzah? Huzzah! There’s football games to watch this weekend (GEAUX TIGERS!) as well as a lot of work I need to get done before I leave for Bouchercon next Wednesday. Which is fine, of course. I just have to buckle down and get my head back in the game, is all. I’ve been tired this week after work–part of that is getting up at six in the mornings, certainly–but it’s irksome to not be able to get as much writing (and good writing, not the horrible shit I’ve actually been writing) and reading in every night as I would like before I turn my brain to relax mode. Ideally, I will be able to get some things taken care of this weekend; writing and reading and cleaning and getting ready for the trip. We have a two o’clock flight out in the afternoon, and we have two hours (!) at Midway Airport–but there’s also a Home Run Inn pizza place at that airport (I noticed it when I had to change planes there last spring when I flew to Kentucky–a mistake I shall never made again) and so perhaps we could have some wonderful Chicago-style pizza for dinner on our way to Minneapolis. I think by the time we get to the hotel and check-in and all settled it might be too late in the evening to do much of anything other than unpack; I also have a very early panel on Thursday morning which means I will have to get up around seven.

I hope there’s lots and lots of coffee to be had in the hotel, else it won’t be pretty.

Yesterday was a tired day for sure. I didn’t sleep deeply Wednesday night–not restless per se, but I was in a shallow sleep for most of the evening, if that makes sense? Not that horrible if I open my eyes I will be awake but that half-sleep where you know you’re asleep but you’re also aware of everything? I hate that. So by lunchtime I was already running out of steam and trying to just hang on until I got off work. I was going to run errands on my way home but was too tired and just came straight home (I can stop by the mail and the Fresh Market tonight or go tomorrow). Once again I was too brain-dead to either read or write, but I did make progress on some chores before collapsing into my easy chair to be a Scooter pillow. I watched Venus and Serena play doubles–Paul was out having dinner with a friend–and then we watched Five Days at Memorial and Archer, and finally were able to watch last week’s episode of American Horror Stories–Hulu kept fucking up when we tried before; we’d get halfway into the episode than it would reboot back to the beginning; finally last night it worked–the weird Judith Light gets a facelift episode–and really, it wasn’t worth all that trouble. These stand-alone horror stories are really hit-and-miss, just as they were in the first season; sometimes they are interesting and clever, other times as satisfying as eating something with no flavor. And then it was bedtime.

I slept fairly decently last night and feel a bit of a sleep hangover this morning, which is fine–I’m assuming the coffee will wipe the dust off everything and remove the cobwebs from the corners of my brain–but today is a short day in the office, which is always nice before a three day weekend–and of course, I intend to run those errands tonight (so I don’t have to tomorrow) and I also need to start making a list of the things I need to pack. I know I am going to take Gabino’s book with me to read on the trip, along with the new Donna Andrews (Round Up The Usual Peacocks) and Laurie R. King (Back to the Garden) to read when I have time or at the airport and on the planes; I imagine I’ll finish Gabino on the way up and get started on the Andrews; which I’ll finish in Minneapolis in order to read the King on the flight home. I also have a copy of Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side–a friend had posted on social media that they were going to watch the campy film adaptation with Jane Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck, and I thought wasn’t that a book first? It was, and since it’s a New Orleans novel–set in the French Quarter in the 1930’s–I thought perhaps I should read this? So I ordered a copy, and it’s rather well written–I’ve glanced through it a couple of times, always finding some sentence that makes me think wow this is either really amazing or incredibly overwrought and overwritten–which is a very fine line to walk. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not I think it’s amazing when I read it.

I had promised myself I wasn’t going to go down any Internet wormholes again for a while, the other day one of the New Orleans and/or Louisiana history pages posted about the murder of a Storyville madam (which I’ve always thought could be an interesting basis for a book) by her long-time live-in lover to whom she’s always been rather abusive, and it mentioned that her killer, although a common-law spouse, was only able to inherit a very small portion of her estate due to “Louisiana’s concubinage law” and well, how could I not go looking that up? Louisiana has some very bizarre laws, particularly when it comes to inheritance; but you also have to understand that up until the Civil War ended, Louisiana had some very bizarre customs. The “concubinage law” was actually passed to protect the dead person’s “legal” family as well as his “extra-legal” family from each other if there was no will, or even if the will cut out one family to the benefit of the other. It’s from pla├žage, of course; that dreadful custom where a wealthy white man had a white wife and children, but also had a Black mistress and children with her.

The “concubinage law”, for the record, was on the books until it was repealed in 1987.

1987.

Jesus.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.

My Heart

Ah, the Thursday before Labor Day weekend and all is quiet in the Lost Apartment…at least until Scooter realizes I’ve gotten out of bed and comes galloping down the steps to demand, rather loudly, that I fetch his breakfast.

Wow, one week from today I’ll be waking up at Bouchercon and getting ready for my first panel. I’m not getting excited about the trip just yet, but I suspect that will get started over this weekend. I was realizing yesterday that I have Labor Day off, work Tuesday, and then am off the rest of next week…why didn’t I take Tuesday off as well? Seems kind of silly to work one day, but I was trying to conserve my vacation time, I think, because I didn’t know if I would have enough earned by the time of my November trips. And of course now it’s too late. Ah, well, there are worse things than having to work on that Tuesday, really, and it won’t kill me, and why not save the vacation time for use at another time?

I see that WordPress has yet again changed the way it looks when you’re drafting an entry, and I don’t like it. I will never understand the need to continually change things that are simply cosmetic for no other reason than to make a change, you know? It’s already irritating enough they don’t have a font that I like–would it really kill them to have Times New Roman? I know my personal favorite Janson is too much to ever hope for, really–that’s never standard anywhere. Ah, well, this is what happens when you get older and get sick and tired of things changing. Excuse me while I go outside at scream at the clouds.

I worked on the book some when I got home from work last night, and it’s astonishing how bad my first drafts can be. I think this is where some of the Imposter Syndrome comes from–writing such phenomenally shitty first drafts–and to be completely honest about it, it’s always, for some reason, the series books that turn out so bad for me every time in the first draft. The stand alone books, for some reason, have much better first drafts than the Scotty books. But it’s getting there, and eventually I’ll have a first draft done that I can agonize over and change and revise and fix and make stronger.

I also watched the incredibly exciting second round match of Serena Williams at the US Open last night, in which she took out the Number 2 player in the world in three sets. She played fantastic–and so did her opponent, for whom I felt a bit sorry, given the way she completely collapsed in her final service game of the match, in which she didn’t win a single point (I think). Serena looked like the Serena of old; the level of play was astonishing. I don’t know how far into the draw she is going to make it on this last US Open of her storied and legendary career, but as I said to Paul, “this kind of reminds me of that final run Jimmy Connors made at the Open, which got the whole country excited and watching. I think the entire world is going to pay attention if she gets further into this, but winning the whole thing is probably too Disney-ending to happen, although it would be incredibly satisfying.”

And we get our first look at the 2022 LSU football team this Sunday night, when they take on Florida State. I don’t know what to expect from LSU this year–new coach, almost a complete rebuilding of the coaching staff and the team–so while of course I always want them to win everything, I won’t get down on them this year because of that, but Brian Kelly is a decent coach (I know people say he “can’t win the big game” but he DID win some big games at Notre Dame, and he was enormously successful at Cincinnati before that and at Grand Valley State before that, so who knows?) and LSU always gets top talent when it comes to players, so you never know. I don’t know if we’ll get to go to any games this season–since we finally saw them lose for the first time in person at Tiger Stadium last year, now I no longer have that same confidence that LSU will somehow find a way to win because we’re there, which of course is completely absurd. (And let’s be honest–they should not have lost that Auburn game last year.)

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

World Turning

Wednesday and Pay the Bills Day yet again. Huzzah?

Whatever, bill BASTARDS!

I also woke up this morning to a lovely review of A Streetcar Named Murder in Library Journal; what a lovely way to start the morning even before I’ve had my first sip of coffee. I can’t remember the last time I was reviewed there, if at all; I think my Scotty books with Kensington (the first three, in other words) were reviewed by LIbrary Journal, but it’s also been a hot minute since the release of Mardi Gras Mambo–Fat Tuesday, 2006, to be exact–so I don’t think it’s too beyond if I don’t remember.

Yesterday was a very busy day at the office; we were short-staffed during walk-in testing to I had to pitch in and help out, which put me behind with my appointments and got me out of there later than I usually get out of the office. I’d planned to run uptown to get the mail, but I was pretty worn down by the end of my shift (oh, yes, everyone showed up for their appointments as well, which never happens; there’s always at least one no-show every day) and so decided simply to drive straight home, especially since there was inclement weather; the air felt like with maybe one more degree of humidity the air would turn to mist or water or something–which is par for the course in late August in New Orleans. I always forget, from year to year, how dreadful late August can be and that the heat/humidity generally doesn’t break until about a week after Labor Day. It’s been so miserably hot for so long already this year that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the summer heat lasted all the way until October this year. I didn’t write at all yesterday either, because when I got home I was drained, as I said. I didn’t even have the energy to do the dishes or anything around the house–which of course made Scooter enormously happy, since i just collapsed into my easy chair and made a kitty lap-bed for him almost as soon as I changed out of my work clothes. I’d slept well Monday night–I did again last night–but like I said, sometimes my clients require a lot of assistance and yesterday was one of those days, so I was tired by the time I got out, and it was later than usual, too.

I like it when my clients require assistance from me. I mean, it’s my job, and I like knowing when the appointment is over that I’ve helped them in some way–whether it’s easing their mind, helping them strategize how to reduce their risk of infections, and giving them a plan for what to do if they think they’ve put themselves at risk. It was also a pleasant reminder of how and why I love my day job. Maybe one of these days I’ll talk about my day job; maybe on my next work anniversary, this coming January when it will mark eighteen (!!!) years of my employment there.

I did watch Rafa play his US Open match last night; having Serena retire after this tournament made me also recognize that soon he, Roger Federer, and probably Novak Djokovic as well as Andy Murray will all be retiring from the sport. It’s the end of an era–an era of giants in tennis. Will we ever have a span like this, with so many great top-tier players in the sport ever again? Between them all–Serena, Venus, Roger, Rafa, Djoker, and Andy–they account for over 100 grand slam titles since 1999. That’s fucking incredible, especially when you figure there have only been about 172 titles awarded in that same time period. That’s pretty fucking impressive.

But I slept very well last night, and feel rested this morning. I don’t want to jinx anything but I’ve been consistently getting good sleep pretty regularly now, and I think it’s changing my perspective. I know having COVID changed something in my brain–I know when I came out of it I felt more rested than I had in I don’t know how long, and my brain had kind of reset. My memory is still shot–I asked a co-worker a question yesterday that I already knew the answer to but had completely forgotten which resulted in a very weird look and you knew that already and of course, once I’d heard the answer I was like d’oh, you’re right, I did know that, sorry. But I feel better emotionally, if that makes any sense, and I feel like whatever malaise/funk or whatever you want to call it that I’ve been in since the pandemic shutdown was finally lifted after I actually had the goddamned plague.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Happy Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.