Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

Happy Labor Day!

I spent yesterday cleaning and trying to organize; I still have some writing to get done today of course, and I am being interviewed on the air about Florida Happens at 3 pm CST, which you can listen to here, live as it occurs! Thanks to Pam Stack for having me.

There’s also a new tropical storm out there and heading this way; naturally, the forecasts have it coming through here currently at various times on Wednesday, amongst which include our flight time, which might be incredibly inconvenient. I immediately flashed through every worst case scenario possible, from annoying delays to flat out cancellations and inability to get over there at all–(worst case–I could drive. If we leave on Wednesday morning we could be in St. Petersburg on Wednesday night, but I will be one crabby as fuck bitch when I arrive).

And how about them Tigers?

One of the things I loathe about the pre-season in college football–and pre-season rankings–is, no matter how amazing you are as an analyst/coach/commentator, it’s just guesswork with far too many variables involved for anything remotely approaching accuracy. These rankings can only be based on how the team did in the last season, the new additions to the team, and coaching guesses. No one knows how much chemistry a team will have, what pieces might be missing from the previous season and creating holes on offense and defense that might need to be filled, etc. etc. etc. That said, all portents to ranking Miami in the top ten were there–with a bit of a question mark since they lost their final three games after a 10-0 start. As I said to Paul as we were watching the first quarter of the game last night, “I just realized why I hate Miami so much when I never did before–I have actually kind of always liked Miami. But it’s because Mark Richt is their coach now, and in my subconscious playing Miami now is like playing Georgia.”

PAUL: Well, they’re my favorite team in the state of Florida by far.

GREG: Excellent point, mine, too.

Mark Richt is a good coach, but he was never a big game coach during his run at Georgia, where he could have had national champion contenders every year but somehow always managed to blow it, which eventually led to his termination and the hiring of the coach (whose name escapes me now) who took Georgia all the way to the national championship game last year. And after last night, I would imagine there are some questions about his coaching ability and some rumblings at Miami.

But LSU looked terrific last night, with some exceptions–opening game jitters in the first quarter–but once they settled down they looked much better than anyone gave them any pre-season credit for. They’re only going to get better as the season progresses, and as long as their confidence can keep growing with each game, this could be a terrific season. Next weekend is the Southeastern Louisiana game (SLU from Hammond), and after that, it’s off to top ten ranked Auburn, which knocked off a higher-ranked top ten team this past Saturday in Washington, and surely Auburn is going to want some payback for last season’s stunning come-from-behind upset in Tiger Stadium (while we were in Toronto for Bouchercon). And with both teams from the national championship game on this year’s schedule (Alabama and Georgia), along with Texas A&M, Florida, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State–well, there are a lot of tough games and a lot of trap games on the LSU schedule. But I will say this: if LSU can make it through their murderous schedule with only one or two losses, they belong in the Top Ten for sure.

We shall see as the season plays out.

But in the meantime, GEAUX TIGERS!

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So much to do today, and so little desire to do any of it. Ah, well, life goes on.

And it ain’t getting done with me just sitting here.

This Used To Be My Playground

GEAUX TIGERS!

I watched the Auburn-Washington game yesterday while I cleaned the downstairs. I did a lot of chores and errands yesterday; and also did some reorganizing and cleaning so the living room doesn’t look quite so…book hoarder-ish. 

I’m getting better about it. I’ve realized that the true value, for me, of the ebook is that if I read a book I really like and think I’ll want to hang on to for one reason or another, I can donate the hardcopy and buy the ebook; if I’m patient enough and pay enough attention to email alerts and so forth, I can usually get it at a much discounted price. I don’t feel quite so bad about buying ebooks at low sale prices as I would had I not paid full price already for a print version. So, I’m really buying the book twice.

(I also find myself taking advantages of sales on ebooks by a particular author whose books I loved and would love to revisit sometime. I have the entire canon of Mary Stewart on my iPad, and a shit ton of Phyllis Whitneys. I’m also occasionally finding books by Dorothy B. Hughes and Charlotte Armstrong and Dorothy Salisbury Davis, which is lovely; I’ve also managed to get some of Susan Howatch’s lengthy family sagas, like Penmarric, The Wheel of Fortune, and Cashelmara. There are many treasures to be found through e-retailers.)

And I also find that, once I’ve let go of the hard copy, I’m not usually all that anxious to buy the e-version. Most of the books I want to keep is because I think it might be something I’d want to write about in a broader, nonfiction sense; like a book about the Gothic romances of the 1960’s thru the 1980’s, what they were inspired by, and how they were books about women’s fears; yes, there was romance involved, but they were also about the dark side of romance. Or a lengthy essay or study about how gay men are portrayed in crime novels written by authors who aren’t gay men, like the rampant homophobia in James Ellroy’s Clandestine or the male/male relationship in James M. Cain’s Serenade or any number of gay male portrayals over the decades of American crime fiction. Then there are, of course, the nonfiction tomes, about periods of history that interest me that I hold onto because I may need them as research for a book or story idea that I have.

I also keep copies of books by my friends, and whenever a friend has an ebook sale I will always grab a copy if I can.

I still haven’t really shifted from reading hard copies to reading electronically, but I am slowly but surely getting there. Anthologies are really helpful in that way; short stories are, of course, self-contained and by definition can usually be completed in one sitting.

I also finished reading James Ziskin’s wonderful Cast the First Stone, and am now eighty percent of the way finished with my Bouchercon homework.

cast the first stone

Monday, February 5, 1962

Sitting at the head of runway 31R at Idlewild, the jet hummed patiently, its four turbines spinning, almost whining. The captain’s voice crackled over the public-address system to inform us that we were next in line for takeoff. I’d noticed him earlier leaning against the doorframe of the cockpit, greeting passengers as we boarded the plane. He’d given me a thorough once-over–a hungry leer I know all too well–and I averted my gaze like the good girl that I’m not.

“Welcome aboard, miss,” he’d said, compelling me to look him in the eye. He winked and flashed me a bright smile. “I hope to give you a comfortable ride.”

I surely blushed.

Now, just moments after the handsome pilot had assured us of our imminent departure, the engines roared to life, and the aircraft lurched forward from its standstill. Juddering at first as it began to move, the plane rumbled down the runway, gathering speed as it barreled toward takeoff. I craned my neck to see better through the window,  holding my breath as I gripped the armrest of my seat and grinned like a fool. I sensed the man seated next to me was rolling his eyes, but I didn’t care. Of course I’d flown before–a regional flight from LaGuardia to Albany on Mohawk Airlines, and a couple of quick hops in a single-engine Cessna with a man who was trying to impress me with his derring-do. Alas, his derring-didn’t. But this was my first-ever flight on a jet plane.

This is a terrific start to a terrific novel. The fifth book in James W. Ziskin’s highly acclaimed and award-winning Ellie Stone series, it is, alas, the first Ellie Stone I’ve read. I met the author at a Bouchercon some time back (I don’t recall which one) and of course, I’ve been aware of the awards and the acclaim, and have been accumulating the books in his series for my TBR pile, but just haven’t gotten to them yet, much to my chagrin. So while I am not a fan of reading books out of order in a series (a crime I committed earlier in my Bouchercon homework with Nadine Nettman’s wine series), I certainly didn’t have the time to go back and read the first four.

Now, of course, I am going to have to–and what a delightful prospect this is.

Ellie is a delight, for one thing. The book/series is set in 1962/early 1960’s; and Ellie is a report for the New Holland Republic, not taken terribly seriously by the men she works with or for (with the sole exception her direct editor), even though she is the best reporter and the best writer on her paper. (It kind of reminds me of Mad Men in that way.) The opening is terrific; Ziskin captures that excitement of your first jet flight in a time period where it wasn’t terribly common to fly beautifully, and using that experience to not only showcase how adventurous Ellie is but to introduce her to the new reader as well as give some of her background. She is flying out to Los Angeles to interview a local boy who’s gone out to Hollywood to be a movie star, and has recently been cast as the second male lead in one of those ubiquitous beach movies the 60’s were known for, Twistin’ at the Beach. But he hasn’t shown up for his first day of shooting on the Paramount lot, placing his job in jeopardy, and soon the producer has been murdered…and the deeper Ellie gets into her story and her search for Tony Eberle soon has her digging through the seaming, tawdrier side of the Hollywood dream and system. Saying much more would be giving away spoilers, but Ziskin’s depiction of the secretive side of Hollywood, what studios were willing to do back in the day to protect bankable stars, and what that meant to those on the seamier side of the business is heart-wrenching and heartbreaking, and sympathetically written.

I can’t wait to read more about Ellie Stone.

And now I have moved on to Thomas Pluck’s Bad Boy Boogie, the last part of my homework. LSU plays tonight (GEAUX TIGERS!), and I want to go to the gym, do some more cleaning, and do some more writing today.

So it’s back to the spice mines with me.