Ride Like the Wind

Yesterday I felt fantastic. Yes, I overslept, not getting out of bed until a disgraceful almost ten am, had a couple of cups of coffee while checking social media and writing yesterday’s blog entry, and then buckled down to clean, organize and write. I got about 2400 words down on Chapter Ten of the WIP–which I originally thought was Chapter Nine but I had already written that chapter so this was ten, which means the first draft is over halfway done. How marvelous is that?

Pretty mother-fucking marvelous, if I do say so myself.

I slept well again last night, but set the alarm so I wouldn’t stay in bed as late. As it is, I set it for eight and hit snooze repeatedly, not to sleep more, but rather because I felt so relaxed and comfortable in the bed I didn’t want to get up. But I still have some laundry to do, a grocery store run to make (KING CAKE!), and I want to spend the day cleaning and editing a hard copy of the Scotty book. (Yes, I do my original edits on a paper copy. SUE ME.) I also want to finish rereading The Shining so I can move on to Pet Sematary. I am not reading as quickly as I used to, which is aggravating. Once I finish these two rereads, I am going to dive into reading for the Diversity Project, and I also want to get back into the Short Story Project. I also need to clean the apartment more thoroughly–I spent most of the day yesterday organizing and filing, as well as purging books. But I need to get the floors done today, and finish the laundry. This is my first full week of work since before Christmas, and I am hoping if I can focus on getting to bed at a decent hour on the nights before I have to get up early, I can get things done and not wear myself out too terribly along the way. I am not going to try the gym this week, as I need to get a handle on my work schedule and see how I can make that work, with plans to make it back to the gym this coming Friday or Saturday. There’s also no Saints game today, which makes today easier. One of the things that was amazing to me yesterday was how much time I had…it’s amazing how that works. No LSU or college football, and the day is suddenly wild and free. Go figure.

And yesterday was Twelfth Night, so it’s now officially Carnival. Hurray! The city will soon be festooned in purple, gold and green; the bleachers will be going up on Lee Circle and St. Charles Avenue on the downtown side of the circle; King cakes will have their own enormous display table at the grocery store; and that sense of anticipation of the coming madness can be felt in the air. It’s going to be weird not going to work on Parade Days, but it will also make life a little bit more interesting. I’m obviously hoping to get a lot done on those days, but we shall see how that all works out, shan’t we?

I also need to do some cooking today; trying to get food for the week ready and for our lunches. Which means making a mess in the kitchen and something else to do for the day; cleaning the mess. But I don’t like going into the week with a messy apartment; it gets messy enough during the work week when I don’t have the time or energy to keep up with it (or the filing, for that matter). So, there’s some touching up I need to do on my office space, and I can vacuum and so forth while I am editing.

Last night we started watching Homecoming on Prime. What an amazing cast–Julia Roberts, Bobby Canavale, Sissy Spacek, and Dermot Mulroney, just for starters. The plot is also interesting–we’re about half-way through. and will probably finish this evening. We may go see The Favourite  next weekend, which is kind of exciting. I can’t remember the last time we saw a non-popcorn movie in the theater. I’m sure the film is rife with historical inaccuracies–what historical films aren’t–but my knowledge of Queen Anne is fairly limited; I’ve not even read the Jean Plaidy historical fiction about her, so perhaps that won’t be too much of issue to keep me from enjoying it (I’ll watch the new Mary Queen of Scots movie when I can stream it for free; every film biography of Mary Stuart is rife with license and inaccuracy; but it’s always a great opportunity for two great actresses to chew the scenery. The 1971 version with Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson is probably, in my opinion, the best; I always picture Glenda Jackson whenever I think of Queen Elizabeth). I did know that Queen Anne had seventeen children that all died; she didn’t particularly want to be queen, and she had female ‘favorites’–it wasn’t common, but several English kings and queens had same-sex favorites, including Edward II, James I, and Queen Anne. Histories and biographies and encyclopedia entries would mention this, but gloss it over….it wasn’t until my late teens that I began putting together the coding and realized these monarchs were queer.

Yup, queers have been systematically erased from history, glossed over and forgotten, for centuries. Yay.

Part of the research/reading I am doing into New Orleans history is precisely to try to uncover the city’s queer past; trying to find the clues and coded language in books as we are glossed over and hidden from incurious minds. Every once in a while I’d find a glimmer of a hint in Gary Krist’s Empire of Sin, for example, that there were gay male prostitutes working in Storyville, and I kind of want to write about that. As I’ve said a million times before, New Orleans history is rife with terrific stories that would make for great fictions. One of the reasons I am so bitter about the Great Data Disaster of 2018 is not only because of the time spent reconstructing things but because it so completely broke my momentum and totally derailed me. I’m not sure how to get back on that streetcar (see what I did there?) but I’m going to have to relatively soon. But i’ve also been so focused on the Scotty and the new WIP that I’ve gotten away from it. I think diving back into The French Quarter by Herbert Asbury will help.

I also bought some cheap ebooks on sale yesterday, including Sophie’s Choice by Williamt Styron and Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. When I was checking the Kindle app on my iPad to make sure they downloaded properly, much to my horror I discovered that I have almost 400 books in that app–which doesn’t include the ones I have in iBooks or the Barnes & Noble app. YIKES. Clearly, I don’t need to take any books with me when I travel, because there are plenty in my iPad. I also have a ridiculous amount of anthologies and single author short story collections loaded in there…so yes, the Short Story Project will be continuing for quite some time, I suspect. There are also some terrific books in there I’d like to read, or reread, as the case may be…I have almost all of Mary Stewart’s novels on Kindle, for example, and a lot of Phyllis Whitney’s. I also have a Charlotte Armstrong I’ve not read, The Seventeen Widows of San Souci, and on and on and on….I really am a book hoarder, aren’t I?

Ah, well, life does go on.

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

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Slow Motion

GEAUX TIGERS!

ESPN’s College Gameday is in Baton Rouge this morning, and tonight Number One Alabama takes on Number Three LSU in Death Valley, aka Tiger Stadium.

This season has already exceeded all expectations for us Tiger fans; I think the best pre-season predictions had us finishing at maybe 7-5, and finishing no higher than fourth or fifth in the SEC West. Tonight, with only one loss, we take on the Alabama juggernaut which has been almost awe-inspiring to watch play all season. There are few teams, in all my years of watching college football, that have been so dominant as Alabama; no one has even gotten remotely close to beating the Tide this year. Their quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is an unbelievable player; Alabama could probably be competitive in the NFL.

I’ve done a good job of avoiding the hype for the game all week. I’ve made the mistake of getting sucked into this before, and I don’t have the time to bother with it. This past week, according to the hype machine and the newspapers and so forth across the state has been “Hate Bama Week”; I don’t hate Alabama. I have too many friends who went there and/or are fans; I also have family who went there. My distant cousin Gary Hollingsworth–his father and my father are first cousins; I don’t know what that makes us to each other, maybe first cousins once removed, or something like that–was the quarterback for Alabama in 1989 and 1990. (I also know this is all in fun for the most part , but I’ve never enjoyed the taunting or teasing or smack-talk from one fan base to another) My immediate family, and most everyone on my father’s side of the family, are all Auburn fans. I was a kid when Bear Bryant was the coach at Alabama, and I remember their dominance of the SEC in the 1970’s–when their worst season was a three-loss year in 1976. Sound familiar? Alabama’s current dominance began ten years ago in 2008; since then their worst season was a three-loss campaign in 2010. Other than that, I don’t think Alabama has lost more than one game in a regular season in the past eleven years, which is pretty damned impressive. They lost twice in the post-season in 2008 (Florida in SEC title game; Utah in the Sugar Bowl), three games in 2010 (South Carolina, LSU, Auburn), once in 2011 (LSU), to Texas A&M in 2012, Auburn in 2013, lost two years in a row to Ole Miss in 2014 and 2015. They won all their games in 2016, lost to Auburn last year, and are undefeated this year.

You cannot, no matter how badly you want to, deny what Alabama has accomplished under coach Nick Saban, who was 7-6 in his first season in Tuscaloosa–including a loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The next year they rolled into the SEC title game 11-0, and other than 2010, have been a national title contender every year since. That’s a pretty fucking impressive resume, and one that no other college team has even come remotely close to.

LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2011, and hasn’t beaten them in Baton Rouge since 2010.

LSU has slipped since 2011. The Tigers have had some amazing, signature wins since then (Ole Miss in 2014, Georgia this year, to name two) but hasn’t contended for the national or conference championship in those seven years. In 2015 LSU got off to a great 7-0 start, before falling to Alabama in Tuscaloosa and skidding, losing three in a row. This year, the underrated Tigers have somehow managed to be ranked Number 3 in the playoff rankings and 4th in the polls, pulling off a 6-1 start which includes wins over three teams ranked in the Top 10 when they played and another ranked team in Mississippi State. In my wildest preseason dreams, I never would have dreamed we’d ride into Tiger Stadium ranked this high to play Alabama.

To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the best is Alabama. Every national champion since 2008 that is NOT Alabama had to beat Alabama in order to claim the crown (the sole exception being in 2013. Florida State beat Auburn in the closing seconds of the title game to become the only national champion in the last eleven years–LSU was national champion in 2007, and while Alabama wasn’t a contender that year, they still had to beat them–to not have to play Alabama). The dominance of Alabama and Coach Nick Saban is pretty much unparalleled; even the great Bear Bryant didn’t win as many national titles as Coach Saban has–Alabama always seemed to stumble in the post-season under Coach Bryant during the 1970’s, but finally won back to back titles in 1978 and 1979. Bud Wilkinson’s time at Oklahoma in the 1940’s and 1950’s was similar, the Sooners have also had some other periods of enormous success; USC has also had periods of dominance, as has Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State. Florida dominated the SEC in the 90’s; while Florida State and Miami also had great runs in the 80’s and 90’s.

As I said, love them or hate them, you can’t help but admire and respect what Alabama has accomplished, and there’s no end in sight for the foreseeable future to their winning ways.

Of course, I’m hoping LSU can shock the college football world one more time tonight, the same way they did by beating Miami, Auburn, and Georgia. Realistically, I have no idea how this game is going to play out.

But losing to Alabama is kind of like losing to the Patriots, or Serena Williams, or Simone Biles, or Roger Federer. You can only do your best and hold out hope that the breaks go your way; and there’s no disgrace in losing to a great team. I just want LSU to play well.

I grew up rooting for Alabama, and I still do most of the time–just not when they’re playing Auburn or LSU.

And yes, I am the only person in my family who roots for LSU. (My sister, my nieces and nephews are Kentucky fans; they live near Lexington and my youngest nephew and his wife both went there–and they too are having the season of their lives. Today they host Georgia, both teams with one loss, to determine who is going to win the SEC East; and who, before this season, would have dreamed that both Kentucky and LSU, on the first Saturday in November, would essentially be playing for their division titles? NO ONE.)

Even with a loss today, it’s possible for LSU to have its first ten win season since 2011.

I doubt very seriously that LSU won’t be taken seriously in the preseason next year.

GEAUX TIGERS!

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Tell Her About It

At halftime, LSU was ahead 28-3, and the score could have been even more lopsided.

A punt return for a touchdown was called back for a penalty, and the Tigers also missed two field goals. Chattanooga’s original possession–they got the ball first–was sustained by some sloppy defensive play and some penalties, but after having first-and-goal from the Tiger eight yard line, Chattanooga was forced to kick a field goal–and never led again. Four plays later LSU was ahead 7-3, and never really looked back. Outside of that sloppy play and the penalties, LSU looked very impressive last night, winning 45-10 (Chattanooga’s touchdown came in the fourth quarter when the game was pretty much over, and scored in three plays against the second-team defense.) LSU looked great; getting interceptions, recovering fumbles, completing exciting long passes, and Danny Etling looked calm and cool–sometimes running when he had no one open, sometimes throwing the ball away, never getting intercepted and never getting sacked. (He did get called one time for intentional grounding.) It was, over all, an impressive performance, and LSU could have easily scored over fifty points at the very least.

And it’s always fun to be in Tiger Stadium.

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Today, I have to go make groceries, do some more cleaning, and do some more inputting of edits and I also hope to finish Chapter Five; and maybe tonight we can watch the first episodes of The Deuce and American Horror Story: Cult. I slept really well last night, and I also am planning on making it to the gym for the first time in weeks, and the first time in years without an appointment with my trainer. We’ll see how it goes.

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines with me.

One on One

Thursday morning, and there’re storms out there putting lots of people and property in jeopardy. Best wishes, everyone–best to batten down those hatches and get the hell out of Dodge. A New Orleans evacuation would be troubling–usually there’s the options of either going west to Houston or north. This time, obviously, the only option is to go north. I will, of course, be making certain that the car is filled with gas at all times now; I filled it up yesterday morning just to be on the safe side; New Orleans still was in the Cone of Uncertainty for Irma, but as the day went on the model shifted completely and we appear to be in the clear–for this one, at least. Jose is out there, though, behind Irma, and Katia may be forming along the Mexican Coast near the Yucatan. Oy.

I did manage to get Chapter Four of the Scotty finished, and started Chapter Five.  I’ve also input another chapter or so of edits into the WIP as well. Pretty cool. I’ve also had some ideas for some new short stories over the last couple of days, but as always Labor Day weekend has sort of disrupted my life and I need to get my bearings back a bit. I did manage to get the bills paid today, and I have to head over to the West Bank to get my driver’s license renewed tomorrow–YAY–and then I have to work Saturday for a few hours, which is fine. I don’t mind working Saturdays that much, as long as I’m home in time to watch the LSU game. (yes, it’s Tennessee-Chattanooga, but what kind of fan would I be if I didn’t watch their games? Although going to see It in the theater is kind of sounding good…)

It’s also very exciting that four American women are all that are left in the draw for the US Open: four American women in the semi-finals. This hasn’t happened since 2002, I think they said–back when the US women were the juggernaut of Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, and Monica Seles. Venus’ first trip to the semi-finals was twenty years ago. Seriously, the Williams Sisters are without question two of the greatest women tennis players of all time; if not for her sister, Venus would probably have the record for most majors won. So, we are assured an American woman will win the US Open this year, which is very coo. We watched Juan Martin del Potro knock Roger Federer out of the tournament last night; his semi-final with Rafa Nadal should be a final, really.

I do love tennis.

I had a major breakthrough about the WIP this week; long overdue, but better late than never. I realized that my underlying theme wasn’t what I originally thought it was, but rather, something else. It means some more tweaking–but I was going to do some more anyway once these line edits are put in, but knowing what the theme is will  make the query letter writing ever so much easier. I also realized that the crime that’s driving the narrative isn’t necessarily what the story is about; which will make it a trickier sale. But I am very very pleased, and very very excited.

And now, off to the spice mines.

Your Throwback Thursday hunk today–ME! LOL. From a photoshoot I did back in 2004, looking rough and tough. 😉

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