Age of Consent

I slept late this morning–I didn’t even, as I inevitably do, wake up at five and fall back asleep, instead sleeping until almost eight thirty and then taking another fifteen minutes or so to acclimate myself to the idea of getting up. It wasn’t easy, as my entire body was still relaxed and the bed so accommodating and comfortable, but there was simply no way I could stay in be any longer. I have, as always, too much to do and get one today and as lovely as the thought of staying in bed for another couple of hours may have been, it was simply not to be. But the sleep felt marvelous; I don’t think I’ve slept so deeply in quite some time, to be honest, and while you may not be as fascinated as I am by my sleeping, I did feel it necessary to comment on such a good night’s sleep for a change.

I was talking to a friend recently about Lolita–I can’t remember how or why the subject even came up in the first place–butthat conversation put me in mind about how we as a society have changed when it comes to the sexualization of teenagers by adults. I recently watched a terrible show called A Teacher, about a woman in her twenties who teaches high school and ends up having an affair with one of her students, and how this basically ruins their lives on both sides. There has been a lot of that in Louisiana over the past decade–there were two teachers in Destrehan having affairs with male students, occasionally have three-ways with them a while back–and it seems like these kinds of scandals break down here all the time. Teenaged boys and older women have long been looked at societally as not the same thing as the reverse–inevitably triggering responses from adult men things like I wish I’d had some older woman to teach me a few things and so forth, that whole “boys will be boys” mentality that still pervades the culture and society to some degree. This is something I may write about at some point, because it interests and intrigues me–even if it is a bit of a third rail, a dangerous path to follow with lots of potential pitfalls along the way. Teenagers often confuse hormonal responses as love–the whole conflation of sex and love that usually most grow out of it at some point–and of course, teenage boys are easy to manipulate because of their hormones. I think the primary problem I had with A Teacher was I never understood the woman’s motivations; it never made sense to me that she would be so self-destructive; they tried tacking on some back story after the affair was exposed which involved a difficult relationship with her own father, but it didn’t work for me. I also think back to all of the “coming of age” fiction I read when I was a kid, and how inevitably such romances/relationships were always seen as positive things, or depicted that way; there was always some inexperienced teenaged boy falling for some beautiful older woman who inevitably will take his virginity–going back as far as Tea and Sympathy, where the woman did it to “cure” the boy of suspected homosexuality, through Summer of ’42 (I also read the book of this, which impacted me with its tale of loss and longing, and how thirty years after that summer the now adult man still remembers her with love and longing; it would not be depicted that way now) to Class, which really does not hold up well AT ALL. There was a few of these in the early 1980’s–I remember another one called My Tutor, where a wealthy man hires a beautiful woman to tutor his son, they have sex eventually and then the boy (played by Olivia Newton-John’s then husband, Matt Lattanzi, who was stunningly beautiful) finds out his father not only hired her to tutor him but to seduce him (“make a man out of him” is how it was put, how it was always put)–but for a very long time adult/teenager relationships like this were seen as no big deal, at least in films; but I also think it’s pretty safe to say that this was also true societally as well; a father would tend to be proud of his teenaged son for fucking a teacher, rather than being horrified and pressing charges….I think A Teacher missed a beat there, frankly; by having the main male character being raised by a single mom instead of a single dad or at least both parents (or one being even a step-parent) they miss the chance to really address this aspect of toxic masculinity; naturally a mother would think of her child as being molested, whereas a father….that would have been interesting.

It is something I am considering for a Scotty story; it’s all amorphous up there in my brain right now, but it’s slowly forming.

And of course, if the teenaged son was having an affair with an adult male, the father’s reaction would be vastly different than if the affair was with an adult woman.

Yesterday I watched the film version of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, which wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. The film came across as very cold, and also got off to a very slow start. It was enjoyable for the acting, which was top notch–and one can never go wrong casting Charlotte Rampling–and it was a beautifully done film; a very quiet British style ghost story (I really have been enjoying British ghost stories over the past few years, and now I want to read The Little Stranger, of which I have a copy somewhere), and the film has a very dream-like sense to it that is rather marvelous…but that same sensibility also keeps the viewer at a slight distance, which results in the viewer not getting emotionally invested in the characters or the story. (At least, that’s my takeaway from it.) It also put me in mind of Sarah Waters, who is an enormously talented, award-winning British lesbian writer. I reviewed her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, years ago when I still a reviewer, and was blown away by it completely. At some point since then I stopped reading her–not sure why, and I don’t think it was a conscious choice, to be completely honest; I think she somehow just fell off my radar–but watching this film reminded me of what great writer she is, and perhaps I should go back and read her entire canon, including rereads of the first couple of books–I believe her second novel was Affinity–but…as always, time stands in my way.

I also was thinking of revisiting some Agatha Christie; Catriona McPherson posted on Facebook the other day about a talk she is giving for a public library (I believe in South Carolina?) about Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, which put me in mind of Christie again–sending me own a rabbit hole of memories of her novels–in particular my personal favorite of hers, Endless Night–and how I came to read Agatha Christie in the first place. (I picked up a copy of Witness for the Prosecution off the wire paperback racks at Zayre’s; I knew it had been a movie and I knew who Christie was, but had never read her and was beginning to transition from kids’ mysteries to adults. I also didn’t catch the smaller font words beneath the title reading and other stories; I thought it was a novel and was most startled to discover it wasn’t. So the first adult mysteries I read were Christie short stories, which blew me away. The first actual Christie novel I read was The Clocks–after which I was hooked. Remembering this made me also remember the great mass market paperback publishers of the day: Dell, Pocket Books, and Fawcett Crest. Almost every paperback I read as a teenager was from one of them, and I do remember those publishers very fondly.) I have some Christies here in the Lost Apartment,–I was thinking of rereading either A Caribbean Mystery or Nemesis. I always, for some reason, preferred Miss Marple to Poirot; still do, to this very day. I read the first few paragraphs of Nemesis last night, and was, as always, entranced. So perhaps for this weekend I shall reread Nemesis and some short stories, around working on the book.

Because I absolutely, positively, must work on the book.

And on that note tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and don’t forget there are panel discussions for Saints and Sinners up on the Tennessee Williams Festival’s Youtube channel.

This Time of Night

It rained pretty much all day yesterday; it was grim and gray until the sun went down. It continued to drizzle overnight, and it’s gray and cold and wet outside this morning. When I first woke up (I stayed in bed for at least another hour) it was still raining; I could hear it pelting the windows, which were also rattling with the wind. But now I am awake, Scooter has received his morning insulin shot, and I am sitting down at my computer with my first cup of coffee sort of ready to face this blustery day. I managed to get a lot done yesterday–I even worked on the book last night!–and then we got caught up on both Servant and The Stand. I have to say, I had high hopes for this remake/reboot/whatever-want-to-call-it of The Stand; it’s long been one of my favorite Stephen King novels, if not the absolute favorite, and I greatly enjoyed the original television miniseries from the early 1990’s, even if it was flawed. This version? I give them props for telling the story in a completely different, non-linear way, and the casting was very well thought out. But…I suddenly had some misgivings about the plot, the story, and how it was being depicted on the screen; “New Las Vegas”, in both book and both adaptations, was supposedly a new wicked city, on the lines of the great Biblical cities of sin like Sodom, Gomorrah, and Babylon the Great; and as I watched the so-called debauchery of this new edition of the Biblical cities of sin, I began thinking about the queers, and how we are completely missing from this narrative; also, about how “sinful debauchery” was being depicted on the screen.

And it didn’t really sit well with me, to be completely honest. There’s I think maybe one more episode left, and we’ll watch as we are completists; we generally don’t finish things that we don’t like but if we don’t absolutely hate something or think it’s completely terrible, we tend to finish watching. Servant is far superior; dark and demented and twisted, and getting even worse with each successive episode as Lauren Ambrose’s descent into madness grows worse and worse with each episode, and her brother and husband’s consistent enabling of her demented fantasies “to protect her from a truth she cannot handle”–well, good intentions and all that, you know. It’s fascinating to watch, frankly; just when we think it can’t get any more insane it laughs in our faces and yells, “Watch this, bitches!” Really, it’s quite extraordinary.

As I sat in my easy chair watching the LSU-Auburn gymnastics meet (before we moved on to our shows) I found myself writing notes for not just “The Rosary of Broken Promises” but for “To Sacrifice a Pawn” and “Never Kiss a Stranger” last night. It dawned on me during the uneven parallel bars performances by LSU that the primary problem I’ve had with “Never Kiss a Stranger” when writing it was because I was starting the story in the wrong place; my main character has just retired from the military after twenty years of service–he was tipped off that he was most likely going to be caught up in the next “gay sweep” before ‘don’t ask don’t tell” takes effect, so he filed the papers and got out. With nowhere really to go to start his life anew, he comes to New Orleans (around 1994/1995) and as he starts living as an our gay man, he rents an apartment from a widow whose only child died of AIDS the year before, begins coming to terms with who he is and what he wants from life while working as a barback at Oz, and meets a young man he begins to have feelings for…but he can also feel the presence of his landlady’s dead son in his apartment, and there’s a serial killer in New Orleans praying on gay men, the city itself is crumbling and decaying and dying, and how I want to pull all those separate threads together. Obviously, it’s fairly complicated, but I was starting the story with him arriving in New Orleans on a Greyhound bus and renting a room at the Lee Circle YMCA and looking for a place to live….and it dawned on me last night that that is all backstory, and the story should open with him finding the apartment and renting it….and then voluminous notes followed before I jumped into the other two stories. So I am feeling creative and getting stuff finished on that level; which is very cool and pleases me. Today I have some errands to run, some cleaning to do and as always, of course there is writing to be done because there is always writing to be done. But if I can get these next chapters done that I want to get done today, I can have an easier day tomorrow doing edits on the hard copies of the finished chapters and plan what else needs to be done this week. I am taking Lundi Gras off, so next weekend will be a lovely four day weekend following two work-at-home days, which will be really nice–and should help me get very much further on this book being completed. Huzzah!

Yesterday while I was making condom packs I decided to view my first film in what I call the 80’s Teen-sploitation Film Fest. I’ve always thought there were a clearly delineated line between movies directed for a younger audience prior to the 1980’s and those that came after; I, as always, have an uneducated film student type theory that has probably already been deeply explored, debunked, and argued about endlessly. My theory is that the one-two punch of Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High forever changed the face or youth movies; Porky’s was all about the raunchy teen sex comedy, all about sex-crazed teen boys; Ridgemont High showed that girls were just as obsessed/concerned about sex as the boys, and the idea that breaking the rules for kids–drinking, having sex, experimenting with drugs–required punishment of some sort–they needed to suffer for the experimentation, was kind of thrown out the window (although slasher films targeted at the youth market were also on the rise during this time; and as was pointed out so brilliantly in the Scream movies–the victims often were being punished for breaking the rules; another interesting theorem branching off from the original). So, I decided to revisit a film I saw in the theater and actually enjoyed at the time–and did also on subsequent viewings on cable: Class.

Reader, it does not hold up at all–if it ever did, frankly; the misogyny is so deeply embedded in this film that it’s hard to imagine there being anything left if the misogyny is removed. Class is really two movies combined into one: a coming of age movie about a young scholarship student who bonds with his wealthy roommate, which is kind of a sex comedy; and a deeply tragic story about the wealthy student’s mother. The always exquisite Jacqueline Bisset plays the mother opposite Cliff Robertson as her austere and cold husband–there was a lot of story there the screenwriters sadly chose to ignore at the expense of the teen sex comedy they were aiming for. The result is the movie doesn’t really work, and Bisset’s character, Ellen, never really makes any sense other than “oh she has psychological problems, takes drugs and drinks too much.” This is basically shrugged off like it’s nothing, nor is the damage this bad marriage has inflicted on their son ever explored or thought about or even discussed. The son is played by a young and incredibly beautiful Rob Lowe; the scholarship student is played by Andrew McCarthy in his debut film. The friendship between the two is the core of the movie; but even it never makes sense. Rob plays Skip–extroverted, beautiful, young, and rich– as an immensely likable asshole with an over-the-top sense of humor. There are some funny scenes, but the core of the movie is based in the hormone-riddled sex fever dreams of teenaged boys who drink and smoke pot and try to get laid and spend most of their time figuring out ways around the rules and partying. There are some funny moments–but for the most part the movie can’t make up its mind as to whether its supposed to be comedy or drama. One of the fun things about the movie is seeing any number of young stars of the future in small roles–John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Virginia Madsen, and Casey Siezmansko all are in the movie, as well as it being McCarthy’s debut and an early film in the Lowe canon. The retread plot, which has Jonathon (McCarthy) going to a bar in Chicago (sent by Skip) to try to get laid, being humiliated by a woman who also looked familiar, and then finally Ellen (Bisset) taking pity on him and seducing him, beginning an affair in which he meets her in Chicago every weekend. She of course doesn’t know he’s a high school student; even as young as he looks, one would assume a man you meet in a bar would be over eighteen–and it’s on a trip to New York for the weekend that his wallet falls open while he’s trying on close and she sees his student ID. She flees, and that’s the end of the affair. Later, when Skip brings Jonathon home with him, he discovers he’s been sleeping with his best friend’s mother–and then it turns truly tragic. Ellen is for some reason now obsessed with Jonathon, calling him all the time at school and begging him to meet her until he finally agrees–and of course, Skip and his buddies crash the hotel where they have gotten a room (somehow finding out their room number) and bust in on them. The rest of the movie has Skip choosing not to reveal a secret of Jonathon’s about cheating on the SAT, the two of them getting into a brutal fist fight–and once it’s over, they are friends again. Roll credits.

It is only recently that we as a society have begun to view the older woman/teenage boy sexual dynamic as abusive rather than as a fantasy; there were a rash of these type films in the early 1980’s (another that comes to mind is My Tutor, with gorgeous Matt Lattanzi being seduced by a beautiful woman hired by his father to tutor him–sexually as well as academically, and Weird Science also had the same premise–but I don’t think the boys ever had sex with their creation) which was part of the weird “boys are studs/girls are sluts” mentality that has been so pervasive in our society for so long–I’ve never seen it, but I also believe Tea and Sympathy falls into this category, as does Summer of ’42–and as I said, it is only recently, with several high profile cases, that we as a society have begun to look a little askance at this idea (we came to the conclusion that older men/teenaged girls was abuse much, much sooner). I hated A Teacher as we watched it, but now…having seen Class again and remembering these other films, which portray these kinds of relationships as something to be desired…I might have to rethink my opinion of how heavy-handed A Teacher was in its “this is a LESSON we all need to learn” stridency. There have been a score of these types of court cases in Louisiana–the Destrehan one where two young female teachers were fucking a student comes to mind–and it’s something I would really like to explore in a book sometime.

And on that note, tis time for me to head back into the spice mines. So much to do, so much to get done….and so little time in which to do it all. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

And now it is Christmas Eve Eve, my half-day before vacation, and all is right in the world. It’s also payday, aka Pay the Bills Day, so I will be forced to spend a small, but no less significant, part of my day paying the bills and figuring out the grocery budget for the next two weeks. Huzzah? But I am endlessly grateful to still be employed in these troubling times, and I think people are reading more these days–I have certainly seen a lovely uptick in my last two royalty statements.

Yesterday was actually kind of pleasant. The mood roller-coaster known as one Gregalicious has been on the upswing this week, which has been very lovely. I’ve actually been getting positive reaffirmation about my writing and my work, and believe you me, that is rare enough that it makes me very happy when it does happen. (I also have a tendency to brush it off or disbelieve it, and that is something I intend to change going forward. I may be almost sixty, but I can still change my spots!) So, I’ve been on a bit of an emotional high this week, and it’s been absolutely lovely. I didn’t sleep great last night and am thus groggy Greggy this morning, but am hopeful that cappuccinos will kick me into gear. And…it’s only half-a-day. I am going to swing by the post office and possibly get some groceries as well on my way home from the office….and I intend to get to the gym today as well.

We finished off season one of The Hardy Boys last night and yes, it held up through the end, even if the finale went a bit off the rails there at the end. The primary appeal of the show is the kids, and the majority of the show hangs entirely on the young actors playing Frank and Joe, and fortunately, both have the talent and charisma to pull it off. They are both likable, respectably talented, and the cast playing their ‘gang’–Callie, Biff, Chet, and Phil–are also equally charismatic. I think Aunt Trudy might be having a lesbian affair with Jesse, Biff’s cop mom, but it was more implied than anything else, and they could wind up just being very good friends. I feel like the show really captured the spirit of the books, despite the changes made structurally to the foundation of the series, and it is far far better than the late 1970’s Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Mystery Hour. The characters have inevitably always been portrayed on screen as very two-dimensional–as they come across in the revised texts of the books–and in this, they are more fully rounded and developed. They’re still good kids, but in this they seem much more realistic–and they don’t mind bending the rules to get the results they need for their investigation. It appears as though dad Fenton will be taking over as chief of police in the second season, which is an interesting twist on the “our dad is a famous private eye” take of the books, and I’m looking forward to a second season.

We also watched the second to last episode of Hulu’s A Teacher, and it remains a hate-watch, as the student, now in college, and the teacher he had an affair with deal with the damage wrought by their affair, not only on themselves but on everyone they care about. It was almost painful to watch–clearly, both need a lot of therapy–but we’ve come along this far, so I guess we’ll hang on to the bitter end, which will be the season/series finale.

Okay, I didn’t finish this before work this morning–I was a groggy Greggy, as I said–and now I am home. I picked up the mail, picked up my library book, and swung by the grocery store. I am now home and on vacation, and it’s quite lovely, isn’t it? I am fluffing the laundry in the dryer, and once it’s finished, folded, and carried upstairs, I am going to head to the gym, after which I will come home, do some odds and ends around here, and then sit in my easy chair and work on the book. I am on chapter nineteen of twenty-five right now (twenty five actually needs to be written) after which I will let it sit for a few days and then go over one last time before turning it in. I need to get my story for the MWA anthology finished, too–that deadline is January 15th–and I have any number of other odds and ends that need tidying up and tying off during this lovely vacation time. Despite all the time off, I am going to desperately try not to take a lazy day–where I do nothing, not even read–more than once (probably Christmas Day) because I really need to get this book finished. But college football is over; LSU isn’t going to a bowl game and as far as I am concerned, I couldn’t care less about the championship play-offs or anything; I’m pulling for Alabama, of course, but not sure that I care enough to watch.

And the dryer just clicked off, and so I am off to fold the clothes. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader.

Jingle Bells

Look everyone! We made it to Wednesday and Christmas is next week!

#madness.

I’m groggy this morning (as well as being Greggy) and am hoping the cappuccino will kick up the energy soon. It’s my last day at the office this week, and while I slept fairly well, I didn’t want to get up when the alarm went off–and am looking forward to sleeping a little later tomorrow. I have to get through this day at the office so I can head for the gym this evening, and then collapse into my easy chair where I will write for a while until it’s time to either watch something on television or read.

Revising Chapter Eighteen is much harder than I had anticipated; most of what I had written is unusable, and so I am basically starting from scratch with it. I made some progress yesterday, but still have a ways to go, and am worried that the rest of the book will also need so much work–but that’s me being paranoid as the deadline date approaches steadily. But I am very pleased with the cover–which I shared yesterday–and the final polish will go a long way toward getting the manuscript to match the mood of the cover, which actually does precisely capture the mood I am going for–spooky, Gothic, rural–and I’ve been worried (my primary worry) has been that I am not capturing the mood I was going for.

Then again, I always am worried about what I am writing.

So, the high today is 58; it’s currently 53 and there’s also rain in the forecast for today. Hurray. The entire sky is gray right now–the sun is coming up, but the sky is covered in frothy clouds–so there’s this whole weird spooky element to the morning already. It doesn’t exactly make me want to jump in the shower and go outside this morning, you know? But it is what it is, and at some point you just have to get it together and go, you know? But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. As you probably already know unless you’re new here, I am not a fan of cold weather–and by that I mean anytime the mercury drops below sixty degrees. I like sweater weather; I do not like jacket weather. But at least the cold weather days are few here–much fewer than in most parts of the country–but that doesn’t mean I have to like them. Rather, I just endure.

We watched the new episode of A Teacher last night, and you may very well ask why we are continuing to watch a show we so clearly don’t like. Primarily, it’s because the episodes are short, and when we have a few minutes in the evening to watch something, well, a show that’s less than thirty minutes per episode fits the bill. I’m not even sure what the entire point of this show is, to be honest. The older woman/teacher last night was let out of jail on probation (I’m not sure why she even went to jail in the first place, as they made it clear from the beginning he was over eighteen–and while it’s morally questionable and she certainly should have been fired, I don’t really see how their affair was actually a crime), and she clearly learned nothing–she’s bitter and resentful that her life has been ruined, and has been ruined for the foreseeable future–so again, I am not sure what the point is here? The show runs trigger warnings both before and after every episode, about grooming and seeking help if you feel you’re being groomed–but that isn’t what they are depicting in the show, which is very confusing to us as we watch…you keep making these statements that grooming is bad and teens get groomed by predators…but then what you’re showing is supposedly a little more nuanced than that, so I don’t get it. It’s like the producers and writers are like, “we want to show the complications of such a relationship, and how there’s so much gray involved when the adult is in her early twenties and the student is eighteen, but we don’t want to be criticized so we are going to try to defuse it by stating before and after every episode that what we are showing is actually bad and if you need help, here’s where to find it.”

It’s just…odd–or at least it seems odd to me. Your mileage might vary.

Basically, I neither understand the teacher nor the student or their motivations or why they are behaving the way they are, so it’s hard for me to understand them or have empathy for either of them. Again, others might feel differently, but the show just isn’t working for me. So why do we keep watching? Because the episodes are short, and everything else we are watching is about an hour per….and sometimes it’s fun to watch something you don’t really like; we watched many many seasons of Pretty Little Liars before we finally gave up on the show. (Interestingly enough, Pretty Little Liars also featured a romance between a high school student and a teacher, with the genders reversed; they became one of the primary “super-couples” of the show and there were no trigger warnings given.) And in fairness, we often were rooting for A.

And on that note, it’s time to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and may your holidays be filled with cheer.

I Heart ?

Wednesday!

I always love when we reach the middle of the week. I’m not quite sure why that is–other than the obvious rushing myself into the grave/wishing my life away thing–but I think it’s more along the lines of hey, I survived getting up at six two days in a row–and this is the last morning this week that I have to!

Yeah, it is most definitely something along those lines, for sure.

Insomnia returned last night, which I wasn’t expecting, since I went to the gym after I got home from work. I had a good workout, and assumed that would wear me out enough to sleep last night, but no–that’s not how things work around here, apparently. I feel very well rested this morning—my eyes feel tired–but am assuming that won’t last all day. I predict running out of steam around three this afternoon, if not sooner. But that’s okay; all I have to do tonight is make some groceries on the way home and then write for a while. I managed to finish the chapter last night that I started Monday night; the story is taking shape and I think it might actually turn out all right. I also decided to take the three office workdays off after Christmas. This is a buffer in case I need more time for the book before it’s due on January 1; if the book is finished (fingers crossed) I can then use that time to get started on the final revision of the Kansas book.

We watched another episode of A Teacher last night, which flashed forward in time, to when the young male protagonist is now in college, and finds out she is getting out of jail, and how he emotionally reacts. He’s damaged by the relationship–which we didn’t see hardly at all while it was going on, or even much of any of this other than his final decision not to run away with her and instead, return home to his mother. This part, I think, was handled much better than the earlier parts; imagine being involved in something like this and then having to take up your normal, every day existence again with everyone knowing about it. Guys would think he was a major stud–which they do, and this makes him uncomfortable–and a girl he becomes involved with is actually curious about it, asking him lots of questions while they are having sex, and then later on, after talking about it with some of her friends, she realizes he was a victim and a survivor and her friends convince her she needs to be more of an ally–which only serves to alienate and infuriate him. This was what I wasn’t getting from the earlier episodes, which seemed–at least to me–to depict the relationship in a more positive light than the trigger warnings at the beginning and end of each episode would indicate. (The trigger warnings, to me, seemed a little too pat to me–as though the producers were exploiting the subject matter while making the exploitation okay by giving trigger warnings and advising the viewers to seek help if they were in the same situation; it frankly just didn’t sit right with me.) This makes me curious to see where the story is going to go from here; I’m definitely more interested than I was earlier in the series.

We also started watching a British show on HBO MAX, I Hate Suzie, which is about a British star–much lie the show’s star and co-creator and co-producer, Billie Piper–who became a child star and went on to make other films and television shows, including a scifi series with a huge cult following (similar to Ms. Piper’s run on Doctor Who), whose phone gets hacked and nudes of her with a man not her husband are leaked to the Internet. This happens on a day when she is doing a photo shoot for a magazine cover AND on the same day she finds out she’s landed the lead in a Disney film, excitedly proclaiming “I’m a Disney princess!” Over the course of the photo shoot she finds out about the hack and the leak, trying to juggle the photo shoot while worrying about her husband seeing the pictures, hoping against hope it’s a hoax, etc. That first episode was quite a performance, frankly, for Ms. Piper. We went on to watch a second episode, which shows the aftermath–she is separated from her understandably angry husband–and on a bit of a tear, while appearing at a London Comic Con….it’s interesting, and we may continue watching it; I’m kind of curious to see where it goes from this opening.

It’s also Payday aka Pay the Bills Day, which is almost always, inevitably, an exercise in depression. I’m not sure how or why I got so far in debt (I know, buying the car and paying for its insurance is what has done it) but there is an end in sight–should I be able to get through until the car is paid off, and I can get the credit issue back under control.

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

Hold On

Good morning, Wednesday, how are you?

It’s very cold again this morning; I am swathed in a blanket and I also dug out the space heater. According to the weather, it is a mere 48 degrees this morning–warmer than yesterday, certainly, but still not exactly balmy as the sky begins to lighten and I sip my cappuccino and blearily try to withdraw from the arms of Morpheus. I was exhausted last night, and even went to bed before ten. No insomnia, I am pleased to report, last night. I slept deeply and well and–once the cobwebs clear–I will feel pretty well rested, which is kind of lovely.

I got another chapter of the book finished as well, which was also nice. It’s beginning to come together, and hopefully I can get another chapter done today. I need to go to the gym when I get off work today, so here’s hoping the weather gets warmer. The high is supposed to be in the low 60’s today–which is cold for a long walk, but I can hopefully hang with it. It depends, I suppose, on how tired I feel tonight when I get off work.

But the blanket and the space heater are working very well together this morning, and I am starting to feel warm now, which is lovely. I really don’t like cold weather. But why don’t you turn on the heat? you may well be asking yourselves. Because it’s an old New Orleans house, for one, and for another all the heat winds up on the second floor–so the first floor remains cold while the upstairs turns into a sauna. And so, those lovely windows around my desk with the sweet view and the wonderful natural light? Yeah, when it’s cold they are like cold conduits. The surface of my desk is very cold, my keyboard colder and, as Ali Valli commented on a Facebook post of mine the other day about the cold, “there’s nothing like a bathroom in an old south Louisiana house on a cold day.”

I was too tired last night to read, so The Bad Seed remains on my end table, beseeching me to pick it up and keep reading, alas. We did watch another episode of A Teacher on Hulu last night, and I’m not really sure what I think about this show, to be honest, other than it’s not particularly good? We’re kind of hate-watching it at this point…if you’re not aware of it, it’s another one of those “high school teacher has an affair with one of her students” stories. I know it’s probably misogynist of me, but I hate stories where someone behaves self-destructively; the entire time you’re watching you’re saying to yourself, “I just can’t be sympathetic to someone who is really that stupid.” I’m not really sure why there is such a fascination with these stories–I also know they are a lot more common in real life than we might want to think or believe; it seems like every few months or so some young female teacher in one of the more rural parishes around New Orleans is busted for sleeping with a student–there was one case, I think, maybe in Destrehan?–where two female teachers were having sex with the same student, and maybe they were having three ways? I don’t remember. But there have been several rather famous cases–maybe Mary Kay LeTourneau being the most notorious, since she allegedly got her lover-student and some of his friends to kill her husband–which is the case the book and movie To Die For were based on. It has led to some interesting conversations between Paul and myself about teacher-student relationships–in particular, the incredible difference between when it’s a male teacher and when it’s a female, as well as how they are reported on and discussed–and how the women always seems to fall in love with/become obsessed with their young male student lovers, whereas the men are inevitably just predators. (The women are also predators, don’t get me wrong–but the men move from target to target whereas the women become, usually, fixated on one particular student.) The show’s not done particularly well, really; I really don’t understand why this particular teacher fixated on her student, and I’m not really certain I understand the male student (who is played by the same kid who played the gay male lead in the atrocious Love, Simon) either.

Yesterday saw the official end of a publishing tradition: BookExpo is dead, never to be revived or rescheduled or anything. The event was expiring already–digital books, publishing mergers, etc. kind of did it in completely; and the event was already starting to die off when I first started going, back in 2000. The last time I went–I think–was either 2006 or 2007, and I could already see a significant difference from previous years–not as many events, not as many authors, not as many publishers–and it was so expensive. For me, it was fun to go, if a bit overwhelming–and I always took every book that was offered to me, because I always felt bad for people offering–but it’s definitely the end of an era. It makes you stop and think, really; what else is never going to come back after the pandemic? Things aren’t going to ever go back to the way they were–too much has already changed, and some work-arounds are turning out to be, actually, better in the long run than the way things were done before.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Hope you have a lovely and warm Wednesday!

Beautiful Eyes

So here we are on Thursday and how is everyone?

I’m doing okay, myself. I got home from work last night and headed to the gym for a nice workout, before repairing back to the Lost Apartment and the ongoing struggle to maintain order and neatness to the Greg-sty. I slept extremely well, and am waking up gradually this morning. It’s a work-at-home day, so soon I will be entering data and making condom packs. I also discovered that a lot of the Hitchcock movies I wanted to watch that were on Prime and then disappeared are now on Peacock–some require paying for a membership, which I am resisting currently as I already pay way too much for way too many premium services–but there were also some terrific films on there for the Cynical 70’s Film Festival that Id’d been looking for, so I started adding things to the watch list while I waited for Paul to come home from the gym. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll watch today while I make condom packs, but there are a plethora of options for me now. …and no matter how much I am paying for streaming, it still is far far less than the Cox Cable bill used to be.

We watched another two episodes of A Teacher on Hulu last night, and while it’s interesting enough, last night as we watched (the trigger warnings! My God) I commented, “isn’t it interesting how female teacher/male student stories get so much attention? What about all the male teachers who get into inappropriate relationships with female students? Is it so commonplace that films and television shows depicting them are considered cliche? I’d almost rather see a show about a gay teacher having an inappropriate relationship with a student–although that would play into that wretched ‘all gays are pedophiles’ trope.” Paul also pointed out–props to him–that the true-life stories about female teachers/male students inevitably reveal a relationship; the women don’t see themselves as predators and fall in love with the boys; the male teachers who prey on their students do not and are serial predators, quickly moving on to the next student while leaving the girl feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and abused–and generally don’t report it (as we saw as the #metoo movement swept the country a few years back).

I also believe the male teacher/female student dynamic is more common–but that also could be my cynical gay man coming out yet again.

I also did something last evening that I’ve not done in years–I put my contacts in to wear to the gym. I’ve not put contacts in for quite some time–probably well over a year. I like contacts and would prefer not to wear my glasses, but the prescription is too weak for my eyes now (so are my glasses) so I can’t really function with them in. But I was also tired of my glasses fogging up from wearing a mask to work out in and breathing hard; so I thought I’d try to wear my contacts again. It wasn’t the worst experience, and henceforth I will most likely continue to do so in the future. I don’t object to wearing contacts–I used to wear them all the time–the reason I stopped is because my eyes have gotten so bad I need progressive lenses, and I don’t really like how they work; I’m sure they work fine for others, but they don’t progress as quickly as I would like, which gets weird for me. On the other hand, maybe wearing them more regularly will get me used to them. Who knows?

I also need to get better focused and get back to writing. I’ve figured out the Kansas book, and I’ve also figured out Bury Me in Shadows (about fucking time on both) and once I get this short story edited and revised, I can dive back into them. I have to work on “The Snow Globe,” and will probably do so today after I finish the condom packs and before Paul gets home. That will free up the weekend to deep dive back into Bury Me in Shadows. I’m also taking the week of Thanksgiving off, so I can get deeper into my “clean like you’re moving” project as well as working on the book and trying to get it all caught up. I’m really excited about getting back to work on the Kansas book (aka #shedeservedit) because I have finally figured out how to write it properly, and what the proper framing device (I always knew it needed one, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it) would be.

I also want to write a story for the next MWA anthology submission process, and the deadline for that is January 15th. I have three stories in progress that would work for its theme; and I’ve pretty much decided which one I want to finish and submit for that; I just need to get a first draft finished so I can work the whole thing out. This is great news for one Gregalicious, and I am quite pleased.

And on that note, I’m going to get another cup of coffee and get started on my day. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader!

Mine

Wednesday dawns, the midpoint of the week has been achieved, and all is right with the world.

The LSU-Alabama game has been postponed, and most likely will end up being cancelled–and the LSU-Arkansas game the next week is in jeopardy as well. Obviously, even though it is highly likely they would have lost both games–and probably very badly–I hate to see it. 2020 has really been a season LSU and its fans would like to forget, and get a lovely do-over for 2021. The good news about this is it completely frees up my Saturday for cleaning and writing and doing things. This is not a bad thing, really; as Constant Reader is well aware, I am behind on everything and so….yeah. Having an extra day where I am not completely distracted by football is probably a very good thing for one Gregalicious.

I have also decided, thanks to the inspiration of a co-worker making the decision to not renew her lease and find a new, more affordable place to live, that it’s time to really really de-hoard the Lost Apartment. As I was looking around the apartment tonight while I waited for the water to boil for the noodles for the evening meal, I realized we’ve lived here for fifteen years (more or less), and as such, we’ve settled in as people tend to do and started acquiring, and hanging on to, things. What we need to do, I thought, glancing around at stack of books and bags of beads/throws and cat toys and magazines, is clean like we’re going to move–deciding what is worth packing and what is not worth moving, and get rid of the stuff we wouldn’t move.

It was a rather inspired thought, and I found myself looking at things that have accumulated with a much more critical eye–and also allowed my cynical inner queen to come out. You’re never going to reread this, I found myself thinking as my eyes moved over the spines of books, and if you haven’t read this by now you never will. The library will take everything you don’t want.

And so this weekend the purge will begin. I had already started going through drawers and cabinets in the kitchen and the laundry room and ditching things (you can buy outlet adapters again if you go back to Europe) ad well as finding things I’d long since forgotten I possessed.

Last night we started to watch a show on Hulu called A Teacher; it looks to be another one of those dramas about a young teacher seducing one of. her students. It’s okay–I’m curious to see how they are going to put a new spin on this story that isn’t Mary Kay Letourneau or To Die For, but each episode is also only about half an hour so we aren’t so heavily vested we can’t quit if it and when it becomes tedious. Kate Mara plays the title character, and Nick Robinson from that dreadful Love, Victor plays the student. We’ll give it another episode or so before making a final decision to quit or keep going. We’d started Killing Eve‘s third season on Hulu over the weekend, but it is riddled with commercials–so many commercials–that the narrative was too broken up to become terribly involving, and as such we decided to give up on it and see if it eventually comes to Netflix. I’m not really sure how they can really keep that series going, but the first two seasons were quite excellent.

It’s also Pay-the-Bills day, always a depressing if satisfying day; it pleases my sense of order to pay the bills and tick them off, yet depresses me as I watch my checking account dwindle. Ah, well, isn’t that the American Dream? Work really hard so you can pay the bills and possibly buy groceries, if you’re lucky?

I also wound up not going to the gym last night. I had my labs done yesterday and while it wasn’t a lot of blood, I really didn’t think it was the best idea for me to go to the gym while I was low on blood. I’ll go tonight, which actually makes more sense–I don’t have to get up at six tomorrow morning, after all–and so it only makes more sense to go Wednesdays and Fridays rather than Tuesdays and Thursdays. But we’ll see how it goes next week. I am taking Thanksgiving week off–which will be lovely–with the end goal of trying to get caught up on everything. I am going to try that this weekend (since there’s no game on Saturday) and I need to really start focusing. Time is slipping through my fingers…but over the last few days I realized what is missing from Bury Me in Shadows (which is helpful, so I can now go into it and fix it) and I finally solved the big problem with the Kansas book (#shedeservedit)–and wrote it down, detailed, in my journal and then flagged the page with a post-it note. So, despite being behind I am in pretty good shape with the manuscripts and the thinking the stories through part; I just need to really hunker down and focus on the task at hand and get everything finished.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me.