Being with You

Our new stray (we’re currently calling him Guzman, after a character on Elite) is very friendly, and is clearly someone’s cat, or was; he wants to come inside (alas, already have one indoor kitty) and not only is happy to be fed, but he also wants to be petted and loved on. He’s also very talkative and purrs while being fed/petted. He’s also enormous; he’s a bit on the skinny side, but if he were fed regularly he’d probably eventually expand to Bubba size, and Bubba was essentially the size of a small wildcat–he had to weigh thirty pounds, and his fangs, like Guzman’s, were very long and scary-looking. Guzman could do some serious damage were he so inclined…and I’ve not seen hide nor hair of Tiger since Guzman showed up. Guzman has also yet to figure out he could and would be fed by every door in our little complex–something Tiger learned very quickly–and instead just hangs out on our steps.

While he’s nice to have around, he clearly was–or is–someone’s cat, and I worry that maybe we should have someone come and take him in–he’s been chipped (clipped ear), but if he was abandoned that just makes me furious. I’m hoping he belongs to someone in the neighborhood (the way Simba did) and just has decided to hang out around our steps for a while.

I did make it to the gym last night after work, which was marvelous–despite the heavy soupy humidity; I was drenched in sweat by the time I got there–and I did one set of everything at the weights I was using before the break–three to four weeks, however long it was–and only lat pulldowns was a real strain; I’ve never really had much back strength, at least not in my lat muscles, which then becomes compounded by not wanting to do those exercises or push myself, which becomes the vicious cycle of the lats never getting stronger so the exercise never becomes easier so I don’t like to do them or push myself with them so they never get stronger so the exercise never becomes easier so I….you get the point. I had hoped to be on a split workout by June–different body parts on different days–but that’s going to have to be pushed back to July now, and only if I manage to keep consistent with my three times per week visits. I think I can do this, but I’ve also thought that before. But sixty is also staring me in the face–scratching at my back, as it were–and if I don’t want to continue becoming more and more feeble, regular visits to the gym needs to become part of my routine. Now that summer is here in its full force, that also means the walk to and from will result in heavy loss of body fluids…as it did last night…so I need to make sure I remain fully hydrated.

Insomnia also reared its ugly head again last night; but I am okay with it. I’ve not suffered from this at all since my return from Kentucky, and as long as it doesn’t become a nightly occurrence again I am good with dealing with being tired today–right now I don’t feel tired; my eyes a bit and my legs, of course, but that’s not from lack of sleep so much as it is from the workout last night–but we shall see how the day goes. At the very least I don’t have to go to the gym tonight, so being tired won’t impact my workouts…but tomorrow is another story.

I also didn’t write last night, which wasn’t ideal, but between going to the gym and then coming home for my protein shake and shower there wasn’t much time before Paul came home–and I started falling asleep a bit while we were watching our current Acorn series, Blood–which is interesting, and boy oh boy is the family it focuses on seriously fucked up–but that was also, I think, partly due to Scooter sleeping in my lap; Paul and I have both noted that our cat’s superpower is the ability to lull us both to sleep simply by cuddling with either of us. It’s probably his regular breathing, heartbeat, and warmth, but it is interesting; Skittle didn’t have that power over me. But I have been thinking more about “Festival of the Redeemer,” and am hopeful I’ll get a few thousand words done on it today at some point. I also want to work on “The Sound of Snow Falling” this week; my goal is to get rough first drafts of both finished by the end of the weekend as well as an edit of “A Dirge in the Dark” finished, and I also want to revise the first chapter of Chlorine I’ve already written. An ambitious plan, to be sure, but one that is possible to accomplish. I really need to start achieving at a high level again, and stop whining about lack of sleep and getting older, and using both as an excuse to not achieve–if that makes any sense?

I’ve also, of all things, started exploring Instagram some more. I was discussing it with That Bitch Ford over the weekend, and he was pointing out that he often gets more engagement there than he does on other social media; which I thought was kind of interesting. So, on my way to and from the gym on Sunday in the rain (that aborted trip because I had the operating hours wrong), I was taking pictures of my neighborhood and posting them on Instagram–and yes, there was a LOT of engagement and I gained a lot of new followers; which was, as I mentioned before, rather interesting. Maybe it’s because it’s more of a visual medium than Facebook and Twitter? I have no idea, but will keep you apprised as I continue what I call The Instagram Experiment. I mean, I love taking pictures–I have literally THOUSANDS of picture files stored in the Cloud–so why not combine my love of photography with a social medium dedicated to sharing images? I doubt I will start making videos–I recorded one yesterday at the request of the San Francisco Public Library, to promote the queer mystery panel I am doing for them later this month–since I hate the way I look and I really hate the sound of my voice–but one never knows.

Stranger things indeed have happened.

And on that note, it’s time to get ready to head into the spice mines and get my day rolling. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader!

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

And suddenly, it’s Christmas Eve Eve Eve. Huzzah? Huzzah.

Yesterday was quite a day. A roller-coaster, as it were; up and down and then loop-de-loop and up and down again. It wore me the fuck out, let me tell you–it was deeply unpleasant at times, and then at others, it was quite marvelous. But the ultimate end of the day was overwhelmingly positive, and that’s always a good thing. The low light of the day was thinking I’d lost the revision of Chapter 18 I did over the weekend–I thought I’d renamed the file (I include the date finished in the file name) and it was nowhere to be found. At one point I was close to tears, thinking about the work I was going to have to completely redo and I almost had one of those patented writer emotional breakdowns we all experience periodically. They are always unpleasant–make no mistake about that–but they are also incredibly cathartic. Deadlines are incredibly stressful, after all, and sometimes that emotional release–like a steam valve that lets off pressure periodically–and weirdly enough, it actually calms me down and centers me.

I have never claimed to be emotionally stable.

I went to the gym after work yesterday, which was nice–I didn’t even have to make myself go, which was even nicer–and then I came home, emotionally and physically exhausted. Paul was working and since I had to go to bed early, we didn’t watch the season finale of The Hardy Boys; hopefully that will be tonight. Instead, I sat in my easy chair and read some more of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson, and I have to say, it’s so well written and involving you can’t help but get absorbed into the tale. We’ve now reached the 1950’s, McCarthyism, and the red/lavender scares of the 1950’s (I did not know that pinko, which was used against suspected Communist sympathizers, originated as now just a Communist slur, but a gay Communist slur; it makes sense, of course….and now I want to write a book called Pinko). I really do want to write my four book historical noir series–not just because the stories themselves are so appealing, but because it will force me to do research into gay history of the twentieth century, and I will learn ever so much more about what it was like to be gay before, during, and after Stonewall in the US.

Paul and I have decided we will spend Christmas watching movies–naturally, Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO MAX is the main feature of the day we are looking forward to seeing–and that will be kind of nice. After my half-day tomorrow I am on vacation until New Year’s Eve, and even then I am working that day at home–more of the Cynical 70’s Film Festival, no doubt–so after I come home from work tomorrow (and must go to the gym as well) I don’t have to go back to the office until January 4th, which is a lovely break and should be enough time for me to have a few goof off days (like Christmas) and writing days and cleaning days as well. I may spend Christmas Eve doing just that–moving the rugs, moving the tables and bookcases and so forth–and getting a nice deep clean on the Lost Apartment. There’s also going to be a Costco day in there somewhere as well–Paul has really fallen in love with Costco, and I’ve sort of created a monster in taking him there; but he also pays for everything when we go, so definitely MY KIND OF MONSTER–and I am thinking I may make a Genius Bar appointment so I can figure out what the hell is the problem with this fucking Air and its storage issues….or I may see if I can do it on-line with an Apple tech first.

I mean, why leave the house and go to Metairie if I don’t have to?

I may even see if I can get the old desktop to work again. We shall see how that goes; I think there are things I can delete off its hard drive to free up space. I really hate working on the Air, to be honest, and am seriously thinking I need to get another desktop computer…obviously, I am very reluctant to spend the money on another Mac if it’s going to be rendered completely useless by a future OS update. But a new computer is another tax write-off, and that’s nothing to be sneezed at, I suppose.

And the Dark Lord continues to come around. Paul says he has started hanging out with Tiger next door, but when he hears us coming he comes springing down the sidewalk and bounces behind us all the way to the door. He will only eat from one spot–I’ve tried a dish, I’ve put the food in other places, but no, if it’s not in front of the bottom step he won’t notice or touch it. He also scampers away whenever I try to get close–right under the house, which is rather conveniently close for an easy escape–but Paul said he let Paul touch him and pet his head yesterday, so there’s progress. Paul is the Cat Whisperer….if anyone can get the Dark Lord to bond, it’s Paul.

And on that note it is back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Christmas Eve Eve Eve, everyone, and I’ll check in with you all again tomorrow morning.

Walk Like an Egyptian

Monday!

Hilariously, when I was writing my blog entry yesterday, I couldn’t remember what I’d watched on Saturday before moving on to Batman v. Superman, and I actually was thinking, I couldn’t have been streaming music videos all that time, could I? And then I remembered, last night while we were getting caught up on Animal Kingdom (which is awesome), that I’d discovered some of the old ABC Movies of the Week on Youtube, and watched two of them, back to back: The Cat Creature and Crowhaven Farm.

When I was a kid, I loved the ABC Movie of the Week. Some of them were good, some of them were awful, and it was interesting to see whether two of the ones I remembered so vividly held up; a while back, I’d discovered The House That Wouldn’t Die on Youtube; it starred Barbara Stanwyck and was based on my favorite ghost story of all time, Barbara Michaels’ Ammie Come Home. I saw the movie before I read the book–and I’ve reread the book any number of times over the years because I love it so much. I was very excited to watch the movie again..and it holds up pretty well (and BARBARA STANWYCK, for God’s sake), but it made significant changes from the book, obviously, and wasn’t quite as good. But it did hold up, and I am sure, were I not such a fan of the novel, I wouldn’t have had those issues with it.

the cat creature

The Cat Creature holds up fairly well, for a television movie made in the 1970’s. For one thing, the story was developed by Robert Bloch (if you don’t know who Bloch was, shame on you–but he wrote the novel Psycho, which became the film, and was one of the great horror writers of the 50’s-80’s) and he also wrote the screenplay. I think part of the reason I loved this movie so much was because it was based in Egyptian mythology (I suspect the ‘history’ was invented for the purpose of the film; you’ll see why as I move along). The movie opens with an appraiser arriving at the estate of a now dead, wealthy collector, and he has been brought in to appraise the ‘secret collection’ of the collector–which includes a lot of Egyptian antiquities (which, obviously, must have been purchased on the black market). There’s a mummy case, which he opens, and the mummy is wearing a strange amulet around its neck, a cat’s head with heiroglyphs on the back. A burglar breaks in, takes the amulet, and then the appraiser is murdered off-camera–but you hear a lot of screaming and animalistic growling, and of course, the shadow of a cat on the wall. The long and short of it is, the cult of the Egyptian goddess Bast, based in the city of Bubastis in Egypt, was supposedly suppressed and all of its priests killed–the mummy is one of them–and there are legends and stories that Bast’s followers could turn themselves into cats that drank human blood for eternal life; kind of like shapeshifting cat vampires (I am certain this is all fiction without having to look it up). Eventually the ‘cat creature’ is captured, the amulet put back around its neck, and the strange murders all solved. Meredith Baxter (before she added, then subtracted, Birney from her professional name, and before she was a lesbian) starred; it also featured Gale Sondergaard, who won the very first Oscar for best supporting actress, as a shady magic shop owner. It was kind of cheesy on a rewatch as an adult, but it could be remade easily enough and could be quite chilling.

cat shadow

The sad thing about rewatching, though, was realizing that an idea I have for a book was liberally borrowed from this story. Heavy sigh; guess it’s a good thing I never wrote that book.

movie of the week

Crowhaven Farm also holds up for the most part. The movie terrified me when I was a kid, and I watched it whenever it re-aired. It’s also a supernatural story, about reincarnation, ghosts, and revenge from beyond the grave. It starred Hope Lange, who inherits Crowhaven Farm when a distant cousin dies, and the original inheritor is killed in a fiery car crash caused by a mysterious young girl. Lange and her husband, an artist, move to the farm, and on her very first day there she remembers things she couldn’t possible know; how to open secret doors to hidden rooms, where the old well is, etc. She continues getting flashes from a previous life, and begins to fear that not only is she the reincarnation of Margaret Carey, who lived there in the seventeenth century, but was someone who was accused of  witchcraft but turned in a coven of witches, who were either hanged or pressed to death. After she finally has the baby she had been longing for, the past and the present collide and she is confronted by the reincarnations of the coven she betrayed, who want her soul for Satan and vengeance. Instead, she turns over her husband to save herself–much as she betrayed the coven in a previous life–and runs away from Crowhaven Farm with her baby. In the final scene, she is in Central Park with her baby when a mounted cop stops to check on her and the baby, and then he reties a baby ribbon in the strange way her now dead husband used to tie bows. She remarks on it, and he just smiles at her and says, “Well, I’ll be keeping an eye on you now” and rides off…and terrified, Maggie quickly pushes her baby carriage down the path, looking back over her shoulder as the credits roll.

crowhaven farm

Not as scary as it was when I was a kid, but still, not bad; and it, too, could use a reboot.

I started rereading The Great Gatsby again yesterday, and am starting to remember why I didn’t care for it so much; none of the characters in it are particularly appealing. Tom Buchanan is kind of a dick, Daisy’s not much better, and Jordan is kind of a snob…and Nick himself isn’t particularly interesting. The writing is good enough, though–but I rolled my eyes when I got to the end of the first chapter, when Nick sees the green light on the dock on the other side of the bay and witnesses Gatsby standing in his yard, his arms outstretched in the direction of the light, and remembered how my American Lit teacher went on and on and on about the symbolism of the green light.

Christ.

It’s also kind  of weird to be reading a book about rich white people in the 1920’s so soon after reading about poor white people in the present day in Tomato Red.

And now, back to the spice mines.