Act Naturally

Iris Saturday, always one of my favorite days of Carnival. I love the Krewe of Iris, going all the way back to my very first Carnival, as a visitor in 1995, when the ladies buried me in beads. They have continued to do so, every year, since we moved here in 1996. I love this parade so much that I opened Mardi Gras Mambo, aka Scotty III, at the Iris parade. I had originally intended to make the entire book about the Krewe of Iris–Scotty’s sister, Rain, belongs and rides every year–but life interfered, as it often does, and Mardi Gras Mambo went into a different direction.

Which, of course, doesn’t rule out that I won’t someday write another Carnival novel, and build the story around the Krewe of Iris.

Yesterday was some day. It was sunny but horribly cold–low fifties, high forties–and I had a gazillion errands to run–and because five parades were going to run last night, I had to run them early for fear of not being able to park near the Lost Apartment and having to lug everything several blocks, which would have made me homicidal. I also went to the gym before I went down to the Quarter to do condom outreach; and I skipped the cardio, given I was going to be walking several miles as well as standing for hours. I also swung by the library to pick up the book I’d requested: Four, Five and Six by Tey; which is an omnibus collection of three Tey novels. I’d wanted to reread The Daughter of Time, and as it was the only Tey I read and this omnibus was available, I thought, why not? The other two included are The Singing Sands and A Shilling for Candles. It’s a very old edition, much handled and with stained pages, which makes it seem even cooler to me. I also took down my copy of The Charlotte Armstrong Treasury, the omnibus I’d gotten from the Mystery Guild as a child that introduced me to Armstrong (this is not the original copy I had; I bought it again on eBay several years ago) which included Mischief, The Witch’s House, and The Dream Walker, as I had an eye to rereading Mischief….although someone recently mentioned to me that The Witch’s House is very similar to Stephen King’s Misery–and I thought, blimey, it kind of is, and so I may reread it as well.

But I need to finish Ali Brandon’s Double Booked for Death first.

Anyway, the walk to the Quarter was invigorating; the cold once I was down there and no longer moving not so much. I wore a T-shirt under my sweatshirt; a work T-shirt over the sweatshirt, and tights under my jeans and yet was still cold. I lasted three hours out there, then walked home during Muses and Babylon (both rescheduled from Thursday; neither had marching bands or walking groups, so they literally flew past as I made my way up St. Charles. Paul managed to get our annual shoe–and was home when I got here. We went out to the parade route to catch Hermes and d’Etat, with every intention of staying out there for the rest of the parades, but eventually were too exhausted and came inside. Hey, we saw four parades. And while today is also cold, at least the sun will be out for Iris and Tucks, which will make it a lot more bearable. It’ll be cold for Endymion tonight–so glad we’re not going to be out there. The closest the Endymion route comes to our house is Lee Circle (I hate that it hasn’t been officially renamed, but I get it–the city officials have been busy being corrupt, dealing with the Hard Rock, the issues with the fire department, and of course, the tragic death during Nyx on Wednesday night), and it’s always packed down there. I think Endymion also had to be rerouted, maybe? All of the parades turn towards the river at Canal Street this year (because of the closing of Canal by the Hard Rock Hotel disaster site) which also made walking home last night ever so much easier. Muses hadn’t reached Poydras when I got there, so I was able to crossover there and walk up the sidewalk side of the parade. I caught some things–not much, no shoe bracelet this year for the first time ever–and then after I was past the circle there was Babylon right behind. Dinner last evening was a corn dog.

We wound up hanging out with our neighbors and folks from the neighborhood, and having quite a lovely time, despite the cold. Hermes’ floats are beautiful, d’Etat is rude and satirical, but we were too exhausted and tired and cold to wait out the fifth and final parade of the evening.

I also slept very well–yesterday was quite a taxing day for the old Gregalicious. I even stayed in bed for another two hours; I woke just before seven, but was able to nap intermittently for the next two hours before I finally decided to go ahead and get up.

And now I have to do some cleaning and get ready for the day. Iris is rolling in less than an hour, which means it’ll be here around noonish.

Happy Saturday!

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Misunderstanding

Well, Iris is over for another year and as always, the ladies of Iris were most generous to Paul and I. The coffee table is now buried in beads and throws, and there’s a whole day of parades today, plus the magnificence that is Orpheus tomorrow night. We skipped Tucks and Endymion last night–we never have really gone to watch Endymion; we used to walk up St. Charles to go out dancing on that night, and always caught tons of beads from Endymion as we walked–and our attendance today is entirely dependent on the weather. The day parades have been moved up an hour already because of potentially inclement weather; but thus far Bacchus is scheduled to role tonight at its regularly scheduled time.

Paul went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday last night, leaving me home to my own devices for the evening, and so I pretty much spent the evening watching nonsense on television and reading Lori Roy’s Gone Too Long, which is so beautifully written I have to put it down every once in a while to digest it. I am hoping to finish reading it today before and between parade.  I am glad I have tomorrow off, so I can get all the odds-and-ends of my book finished before Orpheus rides, and on Fat Tuesday I am going to probably just relax and read most of the day. I am very behind, not only on the Short Story Project but on the Diversity Project, and I also have my TWFest homework to do as well–I have three books to read for that. But once the Festival is over and I have the first draft of the WIP finished (around April 1st, methinks), I can dive back into both projects. Huzzah!

And since I am taking today off from writing, I can spend the morning before the parades get here curled up in my easy chair with Lori’s book, which is an absolutely lovely way to spend a morning…and perhaps during the brief break between Thoth and Bacchus I can get it finished. It’s a very  well written book, and the story itself, intertwining present day grief in a family with a history of Klan leadership, is stunning in its scope and what it is trying to do, and I am here for it. It’s also interesting that it fits into one of my goals for the year–which is to read more diverse books as I try to get a better handle on this country’s horrific history with race and how that currently impacts and effects our current society–which was, as I started reading it, completely unintentional…so technically, it counts in the Diversity Project because it is about racial disparities and tackles the question of race head-on by doing something incredibly daring for this day and age–a look at the Klan from inside the family of one of its leaders.

Reminiscent of William Bradford Huie’s The Klansman, which I reread earlier this year.

And now, I am going to retire to my easy chair with Lori Roy’s book and my iPad, with the electronic copy of Murder-a-Go-Go’s.

Happy Sunday, every one!

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One Fine Day

IRIS SATURDAY!

Iris has always been my favorite Carnival parade; so much so that it’s the only parade I’ve put in a book thus far; Mardi Gras Mambo opens with the boys on the neutral ground of St. Charles Avenue, watching the ladies of Iris on a beautiful Saturday afternoon:

Of all the parades, my favorite is the Mystic Krewe of Iris. There are several reasons for this. First, Iris is a women’s krewe, which means the masked figures on the floats tossing things are not men. Men always look for women (the larger the breasts, the better) and children in the crowd to reward with their largesse. They only throw to men by accident, or if someone yells particularly loud. This sucks if you like to catch throws. However, the ladies of Iris are just as sexist as the male krewe members. They throw to men and children. Flirting with the ladies definitely works. And since Iris rolls on the Saturday afternoon before Fat Tuesday, usually it’s sunny and warm. Sunny and warm means I don’t wear a shirt. (And a lot of guys don’t. It’s basically a beefcake bonanza out there on St. Charles Avenue the afternoon of Iris. Did I mention how much I love Iris?)

I get lots of throws at Iris every year.

Carnival so far had been a bit of a disappointment.  Mardi Gras was early this year, which meant despite the fervent prayers of the locals, there was a strong possibility that Fat Tuesday itself could be cold, gray and drizzly. If the weather on Fat Tuesday sucks, it adversely affects the tourist numbers of the following year, so the City Fathers were keeping their fingers crossed and praying just as hard for sunny warm weather as the rest of us who just want to run around half-naked.  Unfortunately, every night since the parades started, it had been gray, cold and wet. The parades still rolled despite the inclement weather, but all the newscasters were despondent about low numbers of people out for the parades. They fail to take into consideration that standing in a slight drizzle on a cold night waiting for a parade isn’t fun. You’d think they’d realize it as they stand out there in their trench coats broadcasting. And actually, it’s better for the businesses. Instead of being out there on the streets, the tourists were in the restaurants and the bars staying dry and warm spending their tourist dollars to support our economy.

Every night after we got home from the gym, I’d ask the boys if they wanted to go out and watch the parades. I hate standing out trying to catch throws when it’s cold, so I didn’t try very hard to convince them. I’d have gone if they wanted to, but Frank and Colin weren’t into standing around in the cold rain just to have beads thrown at them, so we pretty much blew off the earlier parades. After all, there’s always another day of parades, and the Goddess wouldn’t be so cruel as to have the weather suck the day of Iris.  Regardless, I love the Iris parade, and unless the streets were flooding, we were going. Besides, my sister Rain is one of the ladies of Iris, so going was also a family obligation. Actually, most of my relatives are in one parade or another, but Rain’s appearance in Iris is the only one I care about.

Fortunately, that Saturday dawned bright and sunny and warm.  All three of us had gotten up early, so we could go to the gym and pump up—as I said, the sexist ladies of Iris really notice muscles. We caught a ride with my best friend David Uptown, where he managed to find a place to park on Baronne, and walked the two blocks over to St. Charles Avenue.

That’s another important thing to remember about Carnival. NEVER watch parades on Canal Street. That’s where the mobs of tourists are, drunk and boisterous and pushing and shoving and just getting on your nerves. It’s much more fun to go Uptown and watch along the St. Charles route. That’s where the locals go. It isn’t as crowded, there aren’t any breasts being bared, and instead you can see what Carnival really is supposed to be like—or what it was like before the college students found out about it. That’s where you see families out with their kids, portable barbecues set up on the streetcar tracks, and coolers full of beer everywhere.  Of course people are drinking, but New Orleanians know how to pace themselves—after all, we have to all year long. Drinking might be a city pastime, de rigeuer for every social event in town, but you don’t see people puking or passing out on St. Charles. You don’t see men taking a piss in a corner.

Many locals leave town during Carnival. They’re sick of the hordes of tourists, the problems getting around the city—St. Charles and Canal, the two main streets in the city, close for the parades, and it’s easy to get trapped inside the parade route. I can only imagine how frustratingly annoying it must be to live Uptown during Carnival. There’s also the familiarity. If you’ve been dealing with it your entire life, after a while I guess it can get old for some people, but I am not one of those people. After all, do you get sick of Christmas? And so far, it hasn’t gotten old for me. I feel like a kid again every year when the parades roll. I don’t believe I would ever get sick of Carnival. I love everything about it. I love the green, purple and gold decorations everywhere—the huge masks adorning balconies, the beads hanging from the tree branches and the telephone lines. I even love the tourists, even though they do stupid stuff they would never dare to do in a million years at home. I love the parades, catching throws, the non-stop fun atmosphere. I even like the pervasive smell of grease from the vendors hawking corn dogs and French fries and those bizarre sausage sandwiches made with fried onions and green peppers. I love the signs in front of bars advertising BIG ASS BEER $3.95—40 OUNCES!! Okay, it’s not like living in New Orleans is ever boring, mind you—it’s kind of like living on a non-stop rollercoaster ride sometimes—but Carnival is different. The whole city is in a festive mood, and everyone is relaxed and just wants to have a good time. What other American city throws such a huge party and invites the whole world to come join the fun?

Doesn’t that sound like fun? My very first Mardi Gras, back in 1995, was also my first experience with Iris, and I fell deeply and madly in love with the ladies of Iris. They showered me with beads, year after year. I used to have an Iris party every year; we even accidentally created a drink the first year we named the Iris: champagne, cranberry juice, and vodka.

It’s delicious.

And I finished revising Royal Street Reveillon yesterday. I still need to work on the prologue and write the epilogue, and I probably will go over Chapter 25 again, but for all intents and purposes, it’s done done done. Huzzah!

And now back to Iris prep.

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An American Dream

I am waiting for the other shoe to drop about Spotify, because I am really enjoying having it. Although I suppose…how do the artists get paid? Obviously, the music has to be paid for at some point–for the right to stream it, right? Then again, that isn’t how radio worked, and this is kind of like “choose your own radio/be a disc jockey”.

Talking about Pat Benatar the other day, of course, led me to make a Pat playlist, and of course the Go-Go’s anthology has led to a Go-Go’s playlist as well. I also made one for the Carpenters (on the Benatar thread I mentioned how noir their music is),Stevie Nicks (was there any doubt?), the Monkees (Peter Tork’s death), and copied some 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s pop hits ones. It’s actually been kind of fun.

Oh! TINA TURNER! Be right back.

So I managed to get two chapters revised yesterday; two more today and the thing is done. Oh, I still need to redo the prologue and write the epilogue, then copy edit one more time, but if I get these two chapters done today, I can do the prologue and epilogue on Monday, and do the final copy edit next weekend.

And then it’s finished.

I’m actually excited to get back to my short stories and my other WIP, to be honest. I want to get the WIP finished in its first draft by the end of March, then put it aside to rework another manuscript for the month of April before returning to the WIP.

Huzzah!

I am also very tired this morning. Muses last night apparently wore me out. My lower back hurts a bit and my legs are tired as well. It may have something to do with I bought a new brand of over-the-counter sleeping pills at Costco yesterday, the Costco brand at that. I tried them out last night and obviously they worked. I didn’t even wake up until almost nine this morning, and am still very sleepy and exhausted. Today’s goals are to wash the bed linens, do some more cleaning, cook some things, and do the last two chapters of Scotty. I doubt I’ll have much of a chance to work on it again until Monday; Paul and I always drink on Iris Saturday which makes the day a total waste, and Sunday is parades all day and recovery. I would like to power through today and get those last two chapters finished today, so I can go ahead and use Monday to write the epilogue, and then do one last copy edit on Fat Tuesday while the rest of the city parties and celebrates, and then I can be done with it.

It’s been a long haul, but I am very pleased with this Scotty book.

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

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Don’t You (Forget About Me)

I hit the wall yesterday during Iris. I came back home to rest for a bit before Tucks arrived, and was so exhausted from everything that I decided that it was wiser to just stay in the house and rest, otherwise there was no way I’d make it to any of today’s parades. There are four today; Okeanos, Mid-City, Thoth, and Bacchus. I usually make Okeanos and Mid-city; but am too tired for Thoth and Bacchus. I’ve never seen Thoth; we used to go to the Quarter in the afternoon on Sundays, and then I worked outreach during Thoth. The last few years I’ve not done outreach on Sundays I’ve been too tired; and I don’t think I’ve seen Bacchus since Drew Brees reigned. I’m going to give it my best shot today.

The rain held off yesterday until Endymion; I was ensconced in my easy chair streaming Spiderman Homecoming when the thunderstorm arrived and it was a beaut. The thunder was so loud and long the house shook; and the downpours so intense that there was some street flooding (nothing major, like in August; but still it sucked for both the Endymion riders and the folks out there watching).

I also watched, in my ongoing quest to rewatch as many of the disaster movies of the 1970’s as possible, Earthquake, which was, without a doubt, one of the worst movies ever made. The whole point of the disaster formula was to see how people–character archetypes, really–placed in extraordinary circumstances having to experience physical difficulties and hardships and emotional distress, to see if they can overcome this and survive; and at the end, some do: the damaged plane lands safely, the fire is put out, they get off the sinking ship. But by it’s very nature, making a film about an earthquake doesn’t end with the characters getting to safety; therefore there is no way to end the film on a satisfying note for the viewers. So, Earthquake merely ends with the camera pulling away from the characters who’ve just escaped the flooding tunnel, showing a ever expanding view of the ruins of Los Angeles, where many fires are still burning; a most unsatisfying end to the film. But it’s not like we cared about any of the characters in the first place, particularly the main character, played woodenly by Charlton Heston. Heston was never the best of actors to begin with; his idea of acting was over-acting under the best of circumstances and at worst, woodenly reading his lines with absolutely no emotion whatsoever. The casting choices made for the movie were also curious; Lorne Greene was playing Ava Gardner’s father and Heston’s father-in-law, despite being only seven years older than the former and eight years older than the latter; his current love interest was played by Genevieve Bujold, who was only thirty. I’m a fan of Gardner, to be honest, but she’s terrible in this film. Everyone is terrible in this film, from the afore-mentioned stars to the rest of the cast, which includes Richard Roundtree, George Kennedy, Victoria Principal, and Marjoe Gortner. Even by 70’s standards, the special effects are particularly bad; and there really isn’t a cohesive story for any of the characters, so the actors have no center for their performances. It was just an attempt to cash in on the success of the Airport movies and the disaster movie craze of the time; with the end result that it’s a terrible, terrible film.

Spiderman Homecoming, however, is just as charming on a second viewing as it was on the first; and Tom Holland is so appealing, as are all of the diverse young actors who play his friends, or frenemies, at his high school. Michael Keaton makes a great bad guy, and the guest appearances by the other Marvel heroes–Iron Man and Captain America–successfully weave the character of Spiderman into the Marvel/Avengers universe. Also, by not  making it an origin story–we already see Peter with his powers, his uncle is already dead–and instead making it about him trying to adapt to his powers while juggling his life as a high school teenager, made it a much stronger film. Well done, Marvel.

After that, we watched the Olympics. I also did some reading, getting back to the Short Story Project, and then I slept deeply and well; I even allowed myself to sleep in, and this morning other than some slight aches in my lower back I feel terrific. Okeanos starts in fifteen minutes; I am not sure which parades I’ll be watching today. There’s rain again in the forecast, and this morning the windows are covered with condensation, just like yesterday. It does seem bright out there, but there’s an awful lot of cloud cover as well. Paul is still sleeping, so there’s that as well. 😉 I don’t like waking him up on the weekends, and besides, Okeanos won’t be here for another hour at least. Iris kept stalling yesterday; despite moving up an hour it still wasn’t finished passing here until almost one thirty.

I don’t have to work tomorrow; Paul’s going into the office for a bit, so I will most likely make a grocery run in the morning and try to get some work done around here as well. I need to get back to work on everything; just because everything in New Orleans comes to a screeching halt for Carnival, we sometimes forget that the rest of the world does not.

Ah, well. And I need to clean the kitchen again; I’m hoping to cook out today, should the weather hold.

Here’s a hunk for your Sunday:

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Bloody Mary

I wish I had some Bloody Mary mix in the house. That sounds absolutely perfect this morning, but alas, I am making do with Bailey’s in my coffee. It’s IRIS SATURDAY, Paul’s and my favorite parade day, and it is stunningly beautiful outside already, 63 degrees with a high of 79, not a cloud in our gorgeous sky, the sun is shining–how does it get better for standing out on the street screaming for beads while day drinking?

It doesn’t.

Last night I was so tired I almost wept out there on the parade route–despite being that deep tired you can feel in your bones and joints, I was out there till the bitter end of Morpheus last night. Despite the agony, though, I had a great time. I love Carnival, I truly do. It just amazes me that every year we have this ENORMOUS event, and even if they didn’t throw anything (as if, who am I trying to kid) it would be fun to people watch, if nothing else. And there’s no escaping Carnival; even if you don’t want to participate, it’s so ubiquitous you have no choice: you have to just give up and go with it otherwise you’ll make yourself crazy. I walked over ten miles yesterday, between going to and from work as well as walking around in the Quarter passing out condoms, and I’ll have to do that again on Monday. Sigh. At least Fat Tuesday is a holiday and I don’t have to work; and it’s a short work week. Huzzah!

I also heard from an editor this morning I submitted an essay to that she loved my essay, which was finished while I was in Kentucky and so I wasn’t sure if it was any good or not. YAY, ME! I am very excited about this, as you can probably imagine: good news about writing is always welcomed in the Lost Apartment. Being a writer is so bipolar, really; you go from highs of “wow I am really good at this” to horrifying, depressing lows of “why do I bother I so clearly suck at this.” It’s undoubtedly why so many of us drink.

Xanax is also helpful, I find.

I am going to try to get all this laundry done and finish cleaning the kitchen before Iris arrives…and I already have a lovely, pleasant buzz from the Bailey’s. Huzzah!

But I still wish I had a Bloody Mary.

Here’s an Iris memory for you: