One for One

FRIDAY!!!!

Yesterday was a good day. I slept extremely well, got up, answered some emails and printed some things out that I needed to sign and scan and send back, data entered, and then made condom packs. Once I was finished with my work-at-home duties for the day, I went to the gym. Yes, that’s right–one more time for those in the back: I went to the gym again. It was a lovely late afternoon–early December is so lovely here, Constant Reader, you have no idea–and so the walk was nice. People out walking their dogs, dogs running around having a good time in Coliseum Square, a nice coolness…it’s so lovely here once the blast furnace of the summer is over.

I also wrote for a bit–not one of my better writing days, alas–and so took a break and read Donna Andrews’ Murder Most Fowl for a while until it was time for us to watch last night’s batch of episodes of Gossip Girl. The last three episodes of the reboot–although I suppose it’s really more of a sequel series than a reboot–have dropped, but last night’s was rather lame; the season is sputtering its way to the finish line, which is a shame, since it started so well with guns blazing–and we’ve come to the conclusion that we much prefer the OG. We saw the first two episodes of Season 2, and are all in once again; despite the fact that the season one finale was such a disappointment. New characters, new romances for the characters, and lots of new drama, which is wonderful. I still can’t believe we didn’t ever tune in when it was originally airing.

Today is another work-at-home day, mostly data entry but with some condom-packing perhaps later. Yesterday’s condom-packing movie was another entry in the Cynical 70’s Film Festival, and I decided to check out Shaft, the original from 1971 starring Richard Roundtree–who was sexy as fuck. I’ve never seen the original Shaft movies; there were three of them in total (Shaft’s Big Score, Shaft in Africa) released in the 1970’s, and while it’s terribly dated now, it still holds up as entertainment. And one cannot really dismiss its importance as a film, given the time in which it was produced. Here we have, in 1971, six years after the Voting Rights Act and other important civil rights legislation, a complex Black private eye as the hero of a crime film; it is a mere four years after the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night, with Sidney Poitier as a Philadelphia police detective solving a strange murder in rural Mississippi and having to deal with the horrific racism of the region. The film was a huge hit at the time, and it’s famous “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes won the Oscar and was a huge hit record; I believe the entire soundtrack also sold extremely well. The character of John Shaft was created by a white writer named Ernest Tidyman–no #ownvoices there–who also co-wrote the screenplay (he also wrote the screenplay for that same year’s The French Connection–he was definitely having a good year); and published a number of novels featuring the character. Just as Virgil Tibbs and In the Heat of the Night were created by a white writer named John Ball–the novel the film was based on in that particular case was problematic–so was John Shaft; but in looking up Tidyman, I also saw that he received an Image Award from the NAACP. The plot of the movie is pretty straightforward; the Mafia is trying to muscle in on a Black mobster in Harlem, so they kidnap his daughter, so he hires Shaft to find and rescue her. The NYPD is concerned about a possible mob war between to the two rival syndicates, and also is pressuring Shaft to give up what he knows and get involved. It was very much a film of its time; I always love seeing movies film on location in New York during that time, when the city was much grimier than it is now, and its success may have been integral in the development of what came to be known as the “Blaxploitation” film in the 1970’s–when studios realized there was a big audience for films about the Black experience in America, with strong Black lead characters, giving rise to the careers of Black stars like Pam Grier, for one–and some of Chester Himes’ novels were given the Hollywood treatment. Are there any books, I wonder, about this period? Why did they stop making these movies? (They must have stopped making money, which is usually the reason Hollywood stops making any kind of film) I must make a note to do some research.

I also worked on cleaning and organizing last night, so there’s some finishing up to do here in the kitchen/office. I also had to answer some questions regarding the proofs of my story “The Snow Globe” (which will be in the upcoming anthology Murder is Magic, co-edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley), which was nice; I was very glad that story finally found a home somewhere. It was originally, of all things, a Halloween story that morphed into a Christmas story–I’ll write more about it when the book comes out–but the opening line came to me one Halloween night as I stood on the balcony of the Parade watching all the costumes down below on Bourbon Street, when someone dressed as Satan came out of Oz. The costume was totally slutty-gay; a guy with a phenomenal body wearing red boots, a red bikini covered in sequins, horns, and red body paint. Wow, I thought, Satan has a great six-pack, and laughed, because I realized it was a terrific opening line for something–short story or a book or something–and pulled out my phone and texted it to myself so I wouldn’t forget. It sat in a folder called Satan costume for many years…until I realized I could turn it into “Santa” and turn it into a Christmas horror story. And the rest, as they say, is history.

All right, it’s time for me to get back to data entry. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and will check in with you again tomorrow.

Why Can’t We Live Together

Wednesday! What a lovely day, as the countdown to my long birthday weekend begins. Just one full day at the office today, and then a partial day tomorrow, and then it’s vacation time for me. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

It’s funny–I am doing this Facebook challenge, where you share the cover of a book you enjoyed reading every day for seven days, with no comment, review or explanation. I am doing books I loved the hell out of reading, and started with Valley of the Dolls (of course) and The Other Side of Midnight, and yesterday’s was Grace Metalious’ Peyton Place, which is long overdue for a reread. (For that matter, I should reread both Valley of the Dolls AND The Other Side of Midnight as well; I’ve not read a Sidney Sheldon novel since the 1980’s–I think the last of his I read was Windmills of the Gods.) Another book due for a reread is today’s choice, Thomas Tryon’s The Other, which is, quite simply, superb and remains one of my favorite books of all time to this day (maybe I’ll treat myself to a reread this coming long weekend?).

I wrote nary a word yesterday–not one single word, unless you count yesterday morning’s blog, of course. I never count the blog in my daily writing totals, by the way; I always see it as more of a warm-up exercise for writing, any way, a tool I use to get the words flowing and forming in my head so that throughout the day I can, whenever I can, scribble some words down. I slept deeply and well again last night–huzzah!–and with two successful night’s sleep, should be able to get home and write tonight after work (I was exhausted again last night–the twelve hour days are becoming a bit much for my aged self, methinks). Paul and I relaxed last evening and watched “The 60’s” episode of the CNN docuseries The Movies, which is a very interesting decade of America history, particularly when you look at, for example, the path of American film in that decade. (I also recommend Mark Harris’ Pictures at a Revolution, which is about the five films nominated for Best Picture in 1967, a true turning point for American film, where the last vestiges of the studio system were finally being swept away and a new, uncertain era for American film was set up.)

It’s an interesting journey from the days when Doris Day’s was the biggest box office star with her sex comedies to seeing Midnight Cowboy win Best Picture.

This morning, after I finish this, I need to do the dishes and I need to run get the mail on my way to the office. I have some books arriving, thanks to cashing in my health insurance points (it’s a long dull story; suffice it to say that my health insurance has a program where doing healthy stuff and taking care of yourself properly earns you points, and you can then use those points for gift cards; I chose Amazon so I can get books.) Some have already been delivered, others should be arriving today and hopefully will be there by the time I head down there–I got another copy of Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, because I want to reread it and write an essay about the sexually fluid Ripley–along with the new Silvia Moreno-Garcia horror novel, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and Richard Wright’s Native Son.  I read Native Son when I was in college for an American Lit class….and I’d really like to give it another read when I am not being constantly bombarded with foolish professorial pronouncements about its meaning and symbolism from an old white man and a bunch of racist white students.

I also need to read more James Baldwin, and I need to read these Chester Himes novels in the TBR stack as well. I also need to finish reading My Darkest Prayer. Perhaps today between clients? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Heavy heaving sigh. There’s simply never enough time to read.

I was thinking the other day that, in a perfect world for me, my days would be get up in the morning, answer emails and do other on-line duties, write for the rest of the morning and the early afternoon, run errands, go to the gym, and then come home to read. Doesn’t that sound absolutely lovely? It certainly does to me. But alas, this is not a perfect Greg-world and I have to go to a day job Monday through Friday, but at least my day job is one in which I help people every day, which does make it a lot more palatable. I can’t imagine how miserable I would be if I had a job that I hated. I actually don’t hate my job, and consider myself lucky as one of the few Americans who don’t; my only resentment is the time spent there could be time spent reading or writing, which would be my preference.

And on that cheery note, tis back to the spice mines with me. I need to get Chapter 23 written and be one step closer to finished with Bury Me in Shadows, and I’d also like to get some words written on “Moist Money” today–“The Spirit Tree” can wait.

Have a lovely Wednesday, all.

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Against the Wind

Yesterday I only managed to revise one chapter, but I am chalking that up as a win. I figured if I do one chapter a day it’ll be done by the end of the month, and there will be days when I’ll revise more than one, which will put me further ahead of schedule. This weekend I managed to get caught up–I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but what I did get done caught me up again, and that’s really what I needed to have happen. And it did. So, that’s a win.

I don’t know why I am so hard on myself.

Seriously.

I’ve not decided what to read next. I checked Caleb Roehrig’s White Rabbit, a queer y/a, out from the library, but I kind of also want to read either Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett or Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things, which is a vampire novel set in Mexico City and comes highly recommended by my horror peeps. I’ve got an entire pile of diverse books, including John Copenhaver’s Dodging and Burning, Kristen Lepionka’s The Last Place You Look,  Kelly J. Ford’s Cottonmouths, Chester Himes’ If He Hollers Let Him Go and Cotton Comes to Harlem, Frankie Bailey’s The Red Queen Dies…so many wonderful diverse books–and there’s even more than that. I know I have a Rachel Howzell Hall book on the shelves somewhere, and it might not, actually, be a bad idea to dive into some New Orleans/Louisiana history…decisions, decisions.

There are, frankly, worse things in life, to be honest, then being unable to decide which book you want to read next.

I think my sleep schedule is finally stabilizing. I slept very well on Sunday evening and as such, wasn’t tired even after a twelve hour shift yesterday when I got home. We’ll see how tired I am tonight when I get home from work after day two of twelve hour shift; but instead of working straight through, I have a doctor’s appointment in between testing shifts so I’ll be doing that instead…and since I’ll be over in that part of time, am going to treat myself to Five Guys for lunch. Huzzah for Five Guys!

One can never go wrong with a delicious burger. And Cajun fries to go with it. YUM.

Ever since the Great Data Disaster of 2018, I’ve felt disconnected in some ways to all the projects I was brainstorming before it happened…which is why I think reading some local history might just do the trick of reenergizing me with the Monsters of New Orleans project. My life is so defined by said Data Disaster that I can hardly remember what was going on before it happened, and I’ve felt, as I have said numerous times, disconnected, and not just from Monsters of New Orleans, but from everything, and when I try to get everything back on track, it just seems like all those things are adrift in fog and I can’t quite get my hands on them again.

Which, obviously, sucks. But it’s life.

I had all kinds of plans for the future before a little disruption called Hurricane Katrina came along, too. And the time before the evacuation seems like it was a million years ago, and I can barely remember the time evacuated or the time after I returned, or that first year back in the carriage house. My memory is a sieve–and I used to have the most insane memory! I could remember all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys titles in order, and could even tell you the plots. I used to be able to remember details about every book I’d read, including plot and characters and scenes. I used to be amazing at Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit. Not so much anymore, sadly. I like to think I am forgetting things now because there’s so much more to remember, and some things are getting crowded out by new memories…but I think it’s more a symptom of being older than anything else.

Sigh.

And now back to the spice mines.

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