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I can’t believe Chris Owens died.

It’s hard to imagine New Orleans without Chris Owens.

Obviously, New Orleans was here long before she was born, and yes, as with everything, New Orleans will go on. It’s hard to describe Chris Owens to outsiders, really; she was an entertainer, owned her own club on Bourbon Street, and continued performing there at least once a week for decades. I always meant to go see her perform, as I felt it was like paying homage to a local legend and should be done; Paul and some friends did go when I was out of town one week, and I’ve always regretted not ever going. Looks like that’s a regret that I will carry with me to my own grave.

Tomorrow I leave for Albuquerque early in the morning–well, the flight is at 9:50, but that means I have to be there two hours ahead of time, and have to get there, and all of that, you know. So I’ll probably be getting up around the same time I usually do, at six. I have to check in for the flight this morning and I have to pack tonight when I get home from work. Yay? I am excited to be traveling again, excited to be going to a mystery conference, and a little trepidatious about going…just a little bit. I am always a bit nervous about going to an event where I don’t know a lot of people, or the usual people I gravitate towards hanging out with aren’t going to be there. But I am bringing books with me to keep me entertained, of course; I am hoping to finish Arsenic and Adobo on my flight, with Wanda Morris’ All Her Little Secrets also in my bag “just in case”. I am also taking Robert Jones’ The Prophets and Julia May Jonas’ Vladimir and Rob Osler’s Devil’s Chew Toy. An ambitious reading plan, to be sure, but I would also rather not run out of books–although I am also relatively certain I’ll be flying home from Albuquerque with more books than I flew in with. I mean, I may end up hanging out in the bar with people, or I might not. As I said, while I do know a lot of people who are going to be there…my usual con-gang won’t be. I’ll have to wait to see them all at Bouchercon in Minneapolis this September.

Last night I felt a little done in by the time I got home from work, with laundry to get done and dishes to do. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work on the chores–I hate leaving the house messy when I travel, but I don’t think I will have enough time tonight before I have to go to bed to do any repairs to the mess, alas–and when they were completed, I retired to the easy chair (Scooter had been waiting for my lap, occasionally yowling to display his anger and disappointment that I wasn’t giving in to lap duty the moment he realized I was home and he’d been fed) and watched this week’s John Oliver before moving on to Young Justice (which I am really enjoying; it’s nice seeing the ‘not quite as famous’ DC superheroes in the show). Paul got home just after eight, and I stayed up a little while longer playing Scooter bed before retiring to my own bed for the night. I am also worried about being able to sleep on this trip, but at some point I know I will sleep deeply. And at least I do not have to get up early to fly back home. Huzzah!

I am also hoping to get some inspiration this weekend, which will mean attending panels and listening to writers opine about writing, character, plot, story etc. I generally do come away from these weekends invigorated and inspired (if exhausted), so here’s hoping. I have literally written nothing this entire month other than this blog and shitload of emails, and I do have a story due later this month. (note to self: reread that Stephen King story you were thinking of the other day, to see how he structured it) I also want to spend May writing the first draft of Chlorine, June writing the first draft of Mississippi River Mischief, July finishing off the novellas, and then circling back around to the novel manuscripts again. I am hoping that the lack of writing is burn out from all the work I did over the last seven months–finishing and polishing and working and writing like a madman–but then again, there’s always that fear in the back of my mind that it’s actually gone away for good this time. Do other writers worry about things like that? Maybe. I don’t know. I can only speak for myself, obviously–I never speak for anyone other than myself, so don’t ever assume that I am speaking for any community–but I do know I have this experience inevitably every time I finish writing something, or finish a massive binge-writing marathon.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, everyone!

Shine on Me

Sunday morning.

I got up again before seven this morning–despite staying up an hour or so later last night than I usually do; I was waiting, hoping Paul would be coming home, but he didn’t get home again until after I went to bed. I didn’t get nearly as much done yesterday as I would have liked because I got distracted by reading Kellye Garrett’s marvelous Like a Sister, and by the time I finished the book it was late afternoon and the tiredness I was feeling yesterday morning–I mentioned it, remember? I wasn’t as awake and alert as I had been the day before–I decided to just kick back and relax for the rest of the day. I watched a lot of history documentaries on Youtube; watched a lot of news worried about Ukraine; and then last night I decided to watch The Drowning Pool, a 1970’s film version of Ross Macdonald’s book–with significant changes made to the book–moving it to Louisiana for one (more on this later). When the movie was finished I went to bed, and woke up early again this morning (body clock has reset, for good or ill). I have to make groceries this morning, as well as gas up the car (can’t wait to see how much gas costs today; but I am more than willing to pay more to save Ukrainian lives, frankly) and head home for some more editing work. I am going to work on my manuscript today; and I have a manuscript from Bold Strokes I need to get edited this week as well. Lots of heavy lifting to get done this week, but I think I can manage.

I also need to select my next book to read. I’ve narrowed it down some; the leading contenders include Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, The Twelve Jays of Christmas by Donna Andrews, The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr., and All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris. A plethora of treasures in my TBR pile, no? There’s also some short story collections and anthologies I want to start working my way through–not to mention a short story I need to write by the end of the month (see why I need lists?)–so I think once I get home from the grocery store I will most likely have to make this week’s to-do list. I also have some emails to write for sending tomorrow. But I don’t feel as paralyzed this morning as I usually am by a daunting pile of work that needs doing. We’ll see how I feel when I get home from the grocery store, though, I suppose. Usually dealing with the groceries wears me out and I am pretty much useless afterwards; I don’t know if that is actual physical or mental exhaustion or laziness settling in. I know that my energy levels have significantly decreased over the past pandemic years, and sometimes I do wonder if it’s maybe Long COVID; exhaustion and loss of energy seems to be one of its leading symptoms, and of course, both tend to trigger depression, which creates a massive downward spiral. But I keep testing negative for it, so what do I know?

So, The Drowning Pool starring Paul Newman as Lew Archer, renamed Lew Harper in the movie, and the location was moved from southern California to Louisiana for some reason. The movie is very cynical, so it definitely fits into my Cynical 70’s Film Festival, but it’s not a very good movie. (I’ve read the book, and while the family structure of the film seemed familiar, there’s a lot of significant diversion from the book.) One of my favorite parts of the movie is one of those things Louisiana/New Orleans people always point out in movies and television shows: the geography makes no sense. Harper is summoned to New Orleans by an old flame, whom he meets in a Royal Street antique shop for some reason. She doesn’t anyone to know she’s hired him, so why would you meet in the Quarter? The airport is in Kenner; why would you make him drive all the way into the heart of the city when you could have simply met him at a lounge or bar out near the airport, where they would be a lot more anonymity? Anyway, the old flame (Joanne Woodward, wasted in a role far beneath her talents) has gotten him a room at a motel in the small town she lives in, and she runs off, promising to be in touch…and here is the weird Louisiana geography part. He leaves the Quarter, takes the causeway across Lake Pontchartrain, eventually crossed the river in Baton Rouge, and then winds up somewhere in swampy Acadiana. That’s all fine…but why would you take the causeway to the north shore to get to Baton Rouge when I-10 heads directly there from New Orleans? He added at least another hour to his trip by crossing the lake. There’s another scene where he’s tracking someone down, following his girlfriend as she gets off the St. Charles streetcar, crosses the street, and enters a home. Harper later refers to the man’s “apartment in the French Quarter”–um, the streetcar doesn’t run through the Quarter, it didn’t in 1975, and it was clearly St. Charles Avenue (there are several more of these, in fact; the bayou area near the town was clearly filmed in the Manchac Swamp). The plot is convoluted and didn’t make a lot of sense–blackmail, Joanne Woodward’s husband is a closet case, someone has stolen an account book from a local oil baron’s company that exposes their pay-offs and bribes and other illegal activities–and Newman, while handsome and charming, doesn’t really put a lot of effort in the role. Your mileage might vary, of course, but I found it to be disappointing. The only thing about the film of note was very young Melanie Griffith playing Woodward’s nymphet teenage daughter…and I kept wondering how old IS she to be so sexualized in a film? But it was also the 1970’s…in catching up on the 1970’s films I’m constantly amazed at how much unnecessary nude scenes for women there are, or gratuitous sex scenes that add nothing to the plots in these films. But I also appreciate the grittier, more realistic if cynical point of view of the films; there’s nothing pretty or noble about humanity in these movies…which also kind of explains how “hopeful” movies like Rocky and Star Wars were so enormously successful during the latter part of the decade.

And on that note, i think I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.