Breakin’ Dishes

Well, it definitely is not gout, Constant Reader. The antibiotic cream prescribed by my doctor has made a remarkable difference with my toe since I started using it yesterday; this morning it isn’t even reddish anymore and bending it hardly is noticeably painful. AH, modern medicine, and sorry I doubted you, Doctor. I did get tired eventually last evening; shortly after finally finishing yesterday’s post I repaired to my easy chair where I watched a few more episodes of Netflix’ The Movies That Made Us, primarily the ones about Friday the 13th, Aliens, and Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s always somewhat lovely to revisit pop culture of the 1980’s, even though it was mostly a pretty shitty decade overall. The difference between 80’s movies and 70’s cinema was dramatic, as I learned during my Cynical 70’s Film Festival back during the early days of the pandemic when I was making hundreds of condom packs every day sitting in my living room during what I was never completely convinced weren’t the end times.

I do have some more cleaning and straightening up to do around here today around working on my book. Yes, I am definitely digging into the book today. I slept like the dead last night, and even stayed up later than usual (Paul came home before I went to bed) and slept an extra hour later this morning being a lag-a-bed until nine (the horror!). I’m feeling very well rested this morning on all three planes of existence–physical, emotional, intellectual–so it should be a great and highly productive day. It’s cold this morning–in the forties outside–and yesterday I had to turn the air on because it was stuffy in here and the clothes weren’t drying. Turn the air conditioning on and cool it down a couple of degrees and it made a significant difference. (I’m always interested in that weird range of temperature where it’s really not hot enough to need the air conditioning, but the air is thick enough so that clothes won’t dry unless it’s colder and the damp is taken out of the air; I also always sleep best on the night that I launder the bed linens) But I am going to have some coffee, do some straightening up here in the office, maybe read for an hour or so, and then get cleaned up and parked at my desk for however long I can stand it today. My coffee is tasting pretty marvelous this morning too; always a plus and always a good sign.

I also spent some time last night revisiting Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet in what was probably the first time in about thirty years, which is kind of terrifying when you think about it. I discovered Russo back in the day when I was discovering the rich culture and heritage of my community, when I was venturing into gay bookstores and had started reading the gay papers and magazines in search of my people and some sort of definition of what it meant to be a gay man in the United States at that time. The Russo book was the first seminal text in critiquing the entertainment industry and its participatory role in enforcing the homophobic standards of the times (if not helping to create those standards by the erasure of queer people and themes in entertainments). Russo set out to show how Hollywood’s erasure, or stereotypic rendering, of queer people served to enforce those social dynamics and mores that were suppressing our community and relegating those who identified as members of that community as outsiders, a lower caste, and separate from the dominant culture. I’d love to see a popular nonfiction version of Russo’s work that focuses on representation in crime fiction; I have neither the research skills nor the patience to write such a book myself. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the Russo book was finding out what films had queer content erased from their original source material; like the film Crossfire, about anti-Semitism in the military, was based on a book called The Brick Foxhole, which was about homophobia in the military; the murder victim wasn’t a Jewish soldier but a gay one. The alcoholic Ray Milland won an Oscar for playing in the film of The Lost Weekend drank because he had writer’s block; in the book he drank because he couldn’t handle his homosexuality in a homophobic society. The mini-series made from Dress Gray saved the reveal of the dead cadet’s sexuality for a plot twist at the end; in Lucien Truscott IV’s novel it was right there, revealed on page one and treated, really, throughout the entire book as not a particularly big deal (I’ve been meaning to reread Dress Gray; it was one of the few books I read as a teenager that didn’t treat homosexuality as a hideous moral failing, a massive sin, and/or something just revolting and disgusting, just as I’ve been meaning to reread Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline–you just know there had to be a queer or two at Carolina Military Institute).

I also remember discovering queer mysteries for the first time at the gay bookstore in Tampa, and thinking you’ve always wanted to write mysteries, why don’t you write them with gay characters and themes? And thus the seed was planted–by Michael Nava, Richard Stevenson, and Steve Johnson–that grew into my becoming a gay mystery writer in every sense of the term: I’m gay, I’m a gay writer, and I write gay mysteries.

So, that’s where my mind was last night; thinking about the very limited queer rep I’d been exposed to as a reader growing up and how discovering gay fiction by gay writers about gay life and experiences–books–essentially changed my life and the trajectory of my writing. I think my writing began to improve when I started writing what I knew–the tired old trope of write what you know–because I was writing about my truths and experiences and feelings about being a gay man in a homophobic country; that was how I found authenticity and truth in my writing, and was able to extrapolate that outward into writing about other lives, other people, other experiences.

And of course, the Lefty Award banquet is tonight. I’m cheering on my friends and fellow nominees from afar. It’s a pleasure and a thrill to be nominated for Best Humorous Mystery; I never expected in a million years to ever be nominated for a Lefty and then it happened, so A Streetcar Named Murder continues on as my “first” of many things. I’m not sure which of the other four nominees will have their name called tonight, but it’s an honor to lose to any of my fellow nominees. (I also never thought I’d be nominated for an Agatha, and yet here we are; I’ve been having a hell of a twelve month period, am I not? Two Anthony nominations, a Lefty, and an Agatha; who’s a lucky Gregalicious?)

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee and go curl up for a bit with a book for a little reading pleasure this morning before I go to work. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

I Almost Do

The days storms come ashore elsewhere–but still close by– are always weird.

There’s the guilt and shame at the relief that it’s not coming to where you live–which means you are relieved that others will suffer instead of you–and there’s still a lot of tension. While New Orleans will have nowhere near the damage or destruction western Louisiana, and particularly Lake Charles, will suffer yet again a mere six weeks or so after the last time they were hit hard, you never know. We are–or were–supposed to experience only the effects equivalent to a tropical storm, and those aren’t exactly nothing. Will trees come down, will power be lost, will streets flood? Will the high winds cause destructive tornadoes? And while suffering isn’t a contest, even typing those words riddled me with guilt yet again.

The sky has been mostly gray all day, with only occasional glimpses of the sun and blue during all-too-brief breaks in the cloud cover. The wind picks up and drops off–and some of the gusts are extreme. I went into the office for a few hours to help out with the syringe exchange, and both coming and going there were a couple of times when I could feel the wind battering my car, trying to move it–never strong enough to make me nervous, but just enough to be unsettling.

Scooter is currently sleeping on my backpack, next to my desk, and Paul is still upstairs working. I have laundered the bed linens today–it’s Friday, after all–and I currently am in the process of cleaning up my iCloud drive (and finding new frustrations with the MacBook Air, but it’s not as bad as it could be, and really, once I get the dongle adapter thingamabob to connect the back-up hard drive to to it, it should be fine. And at some point I will take it into the store in Metairie….unless I can still get help on-line for free), which is taking some time, but it has been a mess for quite some time, and therefore I have no one to blame but myself.

We finished watching Utopia this week, which we greatly enjoyed, odd as it was, and last night we started watching The Good Lord Bird on Showtime, which is also odd, weirdly entertaining, and kind of interesting. It’s about John Brown, the abolitionist hero of the 1850’s, and I am never entirely certain whether Ethan Hawke, who’s playing Brown, is giving an incredible performance deserving all the Emmys, or if he is overacting in a manner worthy of Nicolas Cage at his worst. It’s told from the point of view of a young Black slave, freed by Brown in the opening minutes of the first episode, who Brown for some reason becomes convinced is a girl and for another reason (you’d have to watch) starts calling by the name Onion. I’m sure we’ll keep watching–I was always raised to believe that John Brown was a monster, and while he was certainly not the sanest individual, his hatred of slavery was not wrong–and the show is set during the days of bleeding Kansas, which I’ve been thinking a lot about lately (the town in the Kansas book is called Liberty Center, and it’s called that because it was founded as a free town during those days–it’s also a call-out to Philip Roth, because it’s the town where When She Was Good was set), and wanting to write about at some point.

We’ve been holding off on watching The Boys’ second season until all the episodes were loaded (yes, binge-watching has spoiled us; we hate to have to wait) and I do want to go back at some point and finish Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, and I also want to watch The Haunting of Bly House, which just dropped on Netflix (Paul never got into The Haunting of Hill House for some reason), and there’s some other movies and so forth that are streaming now that we want to see (I keep meaning to watch Boys State on Apple Plus–I actually went to Boys State when I was in high school in Kansas, and why I have never written about that I honestly do not know).

But since it’s October and I had forgotten, I decided to start watching some horror this month while making condom packs. I watched Carrie yesterday (still wonderful) and today I watched one from the 1980’s called April Fools’ Day, which I think I watched on HBO or Showtime back in the day. It stars Deborah Coleman from Valley Girl and My Chauffeur (why she never became a bigger star is beyond me), Deborah Goodrich (probably best known for playing the imposter Silver Kane on All My Children), the guy best known for playing Biff in the Back to the Future movies, Tatum O’Neal’s brother Griffin, and a big crush of mine from back then whom I’d forgotten, Ken Olandt (he was also in Summer School, where he played a stripper so of course he caught my eye). It takes the ‘stranded on a desert island’ conceit of And Then There Were None (also similar to the one season favorite Harper’s Island) and plays the trope of the slasher film against it/–but it’s not very gory (back then I had no interest in the genre of slasher films because I didn’t like gore and buckets of blood everywhere, although I made an exception for the Nightmare on Elm Street movies; Paul was the person who got me to watch Halloween and Friday the 13th for the first time). It’s a fun little movie, scary and suspenseful enough, and entertaining enough, but a trifle that didn’t really leave much of an impact on the horror genre or on film in general. I added some more horror movies to my lists on various streaming services–I can give the Cynical 70’s Film Festival a break for a while, I think–and it’s actually amazing to me how many horror classics I either don’t remember, or haven’t seen–Fright Night, for example, and The Fog, for another–and so with so much streaming content, there’s no reason not to finally view these movies, right?

Right.

I’m also going to rewatch Christine, and some other King adaptations I’ve not seen (primarily because I heard they weren’t good).

And on that note, I am going to head into the living room with some wine and maybe watch some highlights of last year’s LSU season until Paul is ready to join me.

Have a lovely and quiet Friday evening, Constant Reader.

With or Without You

Well, today is going to be one of those days.

I had to take the day off from work to take care of some dental issues for Paul, which means driving uptown this morning and then out to Harahan. The good news about all of this is I can read Rob Hart’s The Warehouse while I sit around waiting most of the day–there’s nothing I loathe more than sitting around and waiting all day–but the book should make an enormous difference. It’s starting to pick up steam, as I knew it would, and I can already see why Rob Hart is getting all the starred reviews and a movie option deal with Ron Howard; this book is cleverly written and the premise is absolutely genius, dystopian and all-too-realistic.

Clearly, there’s more upside than down to today, am I right?

We started watching American Horror Story: 1984, but for some reason Hulu cut out on the last five minutes or so, and I couldn’t get the show to reload on the television app again so we could see the end. That was disappointing and more than a little irritating, but hopefully whatever the issue was will clear up today so we can find out how the episode ended. As many others have noted, this season is playing with 80’s slasher movie tropes; the way it is filmed is clearly an homage to the heyday of the slasher horror film, with references and character archetypes and of course, the ever-popular trope of the summer camp. (I’ve thought about taking on that trope myself; while Lake Thirteen was kind of like that it wasn’t a slasher novel  but rather a ghost story. I really want to take the trope of a group of people going off somewhere remote and secluded to party and have a good time and then encounter something horrifying; I still might do it sometime) I never really got into slasher movies at the time they were popular; I assumed they were bloody and gory and yes, I was right about that. I think I started watching the Nightmare on Elm Street movies on videotape rental, and enjoyed them thoroughly, but eventually abandoned the series after maybe the third or fourth. Paul is a huge fan of the Halloween movies, so he got me to watch the original two, and many of the reboots/sequels of the last twenty years or so. And of course, I loved the Scream movies. I only recently watched the original Friday the 13th recently on Prime–Prime has a lot of the movies of the golden age of the slasher film available to stream, if you’re interested. I do have high hopes for this season–I love that there’s a trans actress in the cast, and Gus Kenworthy might not be talented–he hasn’t really had much of a chance to do anything other than look really hot and sexy so far, and he can actually do that quite well–but he is, as I said, great eye candy.

I’m not sure when I’m going to get home from all this running around today, but I hope to get home early enough to get some writing done, and to get the house cleaned. I made pho yesterday, which of course always creates an enormous mess, and I have to get that cleaned up at some point today. I’m still a little disoriented and emotionally hung over from the energy it took to complete the volunteer project, but I’m going to have to power through that because I just can’t keep letting things slide. I have deadlines, I have responsibilities, I have things that have to get done. And seriously, so much has slid over the last few weeks–my email inbox is a complete and utter nightmare–that I literally cannot have another slide day.

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

485763_10151106181677399_694053057_n