Tennessee Waltz

Another major parade, another tragic death. Endymion was cancelled beyond float 12 last night, after yet another parade goer went under a tandem float and was killed. Remember how I said, after the Nyx tragedy Wednesday night, that it was a wonder it didn’t happen more often? Yeesh. The city has cancelled tandem floats for the rest of Carnival–what does that mean for the big ones, like the Bacchasaur or the Bacchagator, or the Orpheus train? Remains to be seen, I suppose, and I would imagine next year they are probably going to look at barricading the entire parade route–but I also wouldn’t think that would be practical or even possible. The routes are far too long, for one, and in many places there’s just sidewalk along the route, like in my neighborhood. How awful, how simply awful. I see in this morning’s news both Bacchus and Orpheus are complying with the city’s request…but ugh, how sad and what a pall over this year’s Mardi Gras.I can’t imagine what the families of the two victims are going through, nor how horrible it would be to have such a terrible, terrible Carnival tragedy happen to your family.

And of course, being me and being a crime writer, I did wonder if perhaps a serial killer is going to parades and shoving people under floats. There have been a couple of times, I will admit, during parades where I got so close to the floats and with the crowd pushing forward behind me, worried about going under one. It would definitely be a new twist on serial killers–although I suppose this would be more a thrill killer, wouldn’t it?

I definitely need to write another novel set during Carnival–and not just because of these awful tragedies. I said when I wrote Mardi Gras Mambo that I could write twenty novels about Mardi Gras and never run out of material and would barely scratch the surface. I’ve been thinking more about that ever since the first parades this year–about how the parades bring about a sense of community for New Orleanians that I’ve never experienced anywhere else, and the sense of community persists throughout the year. I even thought about opening another Scotty Carnival book with The Carnival parades used to come through the Quarter on Royal Street back before it became a major tourist event. The route was changed when the crowds got too big for the narrow streets–too much of a fire hazard, too impossible to get medical help in for anyone injured or taken ill during a parade–and so now they all turn onto Canal Street when they get there from St. Charles, and bypass the Quarter, which becomes a deserted wasteland during the parades with only the die hard drinkers not pushing and shoving their way onto the sidewalks and neutral grounds of the city’s major street.

That’s actually not a bad opening, to be honest. *makes note*

While I was doing condom outreach on Friday afternoon (in the bitter cold) I remembered an idea I had about a multi-person point of view novel set during Southern Decadence called No Morals Weekend, but I don’t really experience Southern Decadence very much anymore, other than the occasional sweat-soaked condom outreach experience. I guess I could always write it as a historical; which I am more and more leaning towards doing with some of my work. I almost inevitably and always set my books in an amorphous, cloudy now; but “Never Kiss a Stranger” is set in 1994, and I keep wondering if “Festival of the Redeemer” should be set in the past as well. The early days of the Internet but pre-smart phones seems like a lovely time to write about, quite frankly..although for “Festival”, it’s more about Venice being too overcrowded with tourists than smart phones. Then again it’s set during one of Venice’s biggest events, so of course the streets would be filled with people–which again ties in with my thinking about another Carnival novel: imagine how difficult it would be to follow a suspect along the parade route, through the crowds, trying to not lose sight of someone in a sea of humanity with beads and things flying through the air. I’d wanted to do such a think in Mardi Gras Mambo, and while it’s been so long since I wrote it, or paged through it with a quick reread, I am wondering if I talked about limited availability to get around town because of the parades, etc.

When I had a moment of downtime yesterday, I intended to curl back up with Ali Brandon’s Double Booked for Death, but couldn’t find it, so started rereading Mary Stewart’s The Moon-spinners, which I’ve only read once and not again. I couldn’t remember anything of the plot–as I’ve said before, I primarily revisit and reread her Airs Above the Ground and The Ivy Tree when I do revisit her work–but I did remember two things: it was set in Greece (Crete, actually) and it was made into a Disney film starring Hayley Mills, but the only resemblance the film bore to the book were the Greek setting and a female main character. As I was reading–and the opening is quite spectacular, and Stewart’s writing is Mystery Writers of America Grand Master level amazing and literate; the way she is able to make the setting absolutely real and her main character relatable, likable, and someone you want to root for–I kept thinking about how she is so frequently described or remembered as a romantic suspense author, and how not accurate I believe that to be. Sure, I may not remember all the plots as well as I perhaps should (stupid old brain), and it’s pretty apparent that our ballsy young heroine Nicola Farris is undoubtedly going to fall for the wounded young man she stumbled over in the mountains of Crete and is now helping; but with Stewart, any romance involved is definitely secondary to the suspense element of her novels…like she tacked it on because her publisher or agent or readers expected it. I’ll probably read some more of it today–although I did find my Ali Brandon novel buried in beads on the kitchen counter.

I also remembered, out on the parade route yesterday, that I had an idea for a book or short story about a murder on Fat Tuesday; when a family throws open their house on St. Charles Avenue for an all day open house type party, with people coming in and out all day, and then finding a murdered body in one of the bedrooms upstairs as the party winds down. I also started writing another short story, “He Didn’t Kill Her,” whose opening came to me fully formed last night and so I had to sit down at the computer and write the opening paragraphs.

Carnival definitely makes me feel reconnected to New Orleans and inspired again.

There are five parades today–the final one cancelled on Thursday is rolling today after Thoth and before Bacchus: so today’s order is: Okeanos, Mid-City, Thoth, Chaos, and finally Bacchus tonight. I don’t know how much time I can spend out there, to be honest…but it’s a jam-packed parade day, and then tomorrow is going to be another one of those hideously busy days, as I try to get caught up on the emails that have been languishing, run errands (including Costco, the madness indeed!), go to the gym, and prepare for the evening’s Proteus and Orpheus parades.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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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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It’s Your Love

One day down, six to go.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint–truer words have never been spoken about our quaint little celebration know as Carnival. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

Last night the Nyx parade was shortened because of a tragic accident; if you want, you can read more about it here. My condolences to everyone from the victim’s family and friends to the witnesses and to the krewe itself. What a horrible, sad tragedy.

Although it’s surprising, really, that there aren’t more accidents and injuries during parades, particularly in Uptown, where people can get right up to the floats in their quest for throws. For that matter, I’m always surprised more balconies in the Quarter don’t collapse, given how many people crowd out onto them during Carnival and other events in the Quarter.

It’s been raining off and on overnight–it’s gray outside my windows this morning and everything is wet–so I’m not sure how that will effect tonight’s parades; there are supposed to be three, culminating in Muses.

So yesterday–and today, because of said Carnival parades, I’ve had to get up earlier than usual and go into the office earlier, so I can get home before the streets close and there’s still parking within a mile of the Lost Apartment. Yesterday was a rather weird day for me, definitely not routine; I went to work early, got off early, stopped at the grocery store, came home, found parking ON MY BLOCK, put everything away, went to the gym and then came home and showered, preparatory to the parades.

I had literally no idea what day it was most of the day; which is the effect of Carnival, and part of its charm. You have no choice but to disrupt your routine and spend all of your free time on the side of the street with your neighbors and a variety of strangers trying to catch things thrown from a moving float. It’s fun and festive and fosters a sense of community here I’ve never experienced anywhere else I’ve ever lived, and it bonds New Orleanians together in a way that doesn’t happen elsewhere.

I am a bit tired this morning–I wound up going to bed much later than I intended to, and of course, will be going to bed late again tonight. Tomorrow I am going to go to the gym, run some errands, and then I have to walk to the Quarter to do outreach before walking home during the parades tomorrow night. It’ll be great exercise, and I am sure my legs will be horribly sore on Saturday morning for Iris.

I also, obviously, didn’t get any writing done yesterday; probably won’t today, either, but it’s fine. I’m thinking about what I am going to be writing next–it’s insane to me that I have so many balls in the air that I can’t seem to focus on just one–but once I get finished with outreach tomorrow, I don’t have to work again until Ash Wednesday, so there’s plenty of time for me to get things done.

At least, I am hoping so, at any rate.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Y’all have a lovely day.

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There Stands the Glass

Ah, Wednesday, and now it’s time for the parades to kick back into gear, leading up to Fat Tuesday. There are two tonight: Druids and Nyx. The weather is supposed to be terrible today and tomorrow–which would also ruin Muses–but the parades and so forth are currently in a form of stasis, with update to come.

Nothing ever goes as scheduled in New Orleans.

Carnival is kind of like the weather–there’s nothing you can do other than accept it and enjoy it as much as you can, because it’s neither going to go away  nor not happen because it’s inconvenient. You have to surrender to it because you have no other choice.

I was very tired yesterday by the time I got home last night, so I didn’t get any writing or reading done. Shameful, indeed; particularly with the madness of Mardi Gras and probably a complete inability to get anything done over the next six days.  I have a book on hold at the library, and I was too tired to get up this morning to go to the gym, so I am hoping it will be open this afternoon for me to get in and out quickly before they close. I don’t want to get off schedule–it could, of course, happen whether I want it to or not–but I’m going to try to keep up with the new workout regimen. I know the gym is closed Sunday, but I am off on Monday and think I should be able to get a workout in that day rather than Sunday; the question is when can I get Wednesday’s workout in? I am definitely going Friday before heading down to do condom outreach.

At least Friday is supposed to be a beautiful day.

I have to go into the office early today so I can get home before St. Charles Avenue (the joys of life inside the box) is closed for the parades. I have to call the gym this morning to see how late they are open, and then decide if I am just going to miss today’s workout (which I really would hate to do) or if there’s the time to rush home and get over there. The suspense! It’s almost like a Hitchcock film.

My home is a mess and in total disarray currently; I also hope to get some of this mess properly handled before the parades arrive tonight–if they aren’t canceled. I have friends riding in Nyx, of course–it seems I know someone in nearly every parade this year, or at least the earlier ones–and so I have to go be supportive of them should they roll this evening. I know, I know, I complain about the loss of time and having to rearrange my life around the parades, and you’re thinking, but Gregalicious–you don’t have to go to the parades–and yes, that is partially true; we don’t have to go to parades; if we wanted to we could easily just sit here in the Lost Apartment and let them pass by half-a-block away. But it isn’t that easy, particularly when you can hear them, and you can hear the crowds shouting and cheering. It’s a marvelous time, really–there’s that as well; it’s more than FOMO. The parades are a community thing; sure, people come in from the burbs for them and there are also tourists roaming the streets, but parade season celebrates New Orleans and is emblematic of why we all live here–not going or participating seems like turning your back on the city. It’s a reminder that this, too, shall pass; that life is hard and will probably always be hard, but it’s also short and we should try to enjoy as much of it as we can–and sometimes you do have to just stop and celebrate. That mentality is partly what makes New Orleans New Orleans. It’s almost a civic duty.

But we are frightfully low on some staples–milk, bread, creamer–and of course, we’re out of King cake. Depending on what time the gym closes today–if, for example, it closes at five or six–I might have the time to also stop at the CBD Rouse’s and pick up a few things. I intend to make the complete grocery run on Friday–which is when I will also get the mail and pick up my library book, as well as go to the gym–and then the big run to Costco on Monday, since I have the day off. I have to work out that day as well (see aforementioned gym being closed on Monday). Next week is going to be messy too; I have to make up some hours but I think I will do that on Thursday all at once rather than having two slightly long days; I don’t know, it’s all going to depend on the gym hours.

I suppose I should simply resign myself to the fact that I will probably miss a workout a week until things return to normal around here–or what passes for normal, at any rate.

All right, I have some time before I have to get ready for work, so I should be productive, I suppose. Heavy sigh.

Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader!

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You May Be Right

So, the fact that I am a Luddite is a well-established fact by this point in time, so new technology and so forth always throws me for a loop. The most recent example of this for me is Spotify. That Bitch Ford ™ convinced me to give it a try, and I keep getting sucked into making playlists and remembering oh yes, I loved this album or Oh! Oh! I wonder if this artist is on here and yes, time suck. Big time.

And Apple Music is probably very similar. And I already have iTunes. But I have a thirty-day free premium Spotify account, so I have thirty days to decide if I want to abandon this or go to Apple Music.

I managed to revise another chapter yesterday. Just the one, dear? is an actual valid question; it’s true. But I went and did errands, then I had to make room for things and throw things away, and there was laundry to get done. I am probably going to run to Costco today to get it out of the way–Paul had something delivered to the mail service yesterday, and if I have the leave the house, might as well run another errand and get it out of the way, right?

It rained a bit last night during the Druids parade, but remembering the mantra (marathon not a sprint) kept me inside and off the route until Nyx arrived. By then the rain was gone and there was a surprisingly large crowd out there on the route. I didn’t stay out there for the entire parade; there were still another six or so floats left when we called it a night, but I’d already  gotten a purse (thanks, Beth!) and a plethora of beads, among other things, and so it wasn’t a big deal to end early. There are three parades tonight (!): Babylon, Chaos and Muses. Muses is, of course, one of the more popular parades, so it will be mob-like out there tonight. Patricia Clarkson is the Muse tonight; the first woman to be Muse twice, and she gets to ride in the big shoe. I’ll try to take some pictures–I always try–but there are no guarantees. It’s also supposed to rain around five, but it’s also not supposed to last long.

I also need to do some cooking today; bacon and chicken breasts and so forth, so there’s readily available food for us to eat over the weekend; today is a good day for that. I woke up early this morning, and while it’s taken me a little while to get going, I am feeling energized and ready to get some shit done. I’ll probably start revising Scotty when I post this, and then head to Costco and get the mail on the way back.

Got to start checking things off that to-do list; today is a great day to get started on that.

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

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