Destiny Rules

Sunday, Sunday. It feels cold again outside this morning–you can tell, even inside; the downstairs floor is always the giveaway–but I slept really well last night and feel very rested this morning. I have so much to get done today it’s almost daunting, but I think with the good night’s sleep and feeling rested I should be able to plow through everything I need to do today before leaving tomorrow. And there is a lot. I did make great progress yesterday and did get a lot done, not enough, but progress was made. I avoided the television for the most part–it was one, so I could sit in the living room and see what was going on, but I managed to never allow myself to settle in and get sucked into the games. It was a crazy college football day in which the top four all barely managed to win their games, and then of course Number 5 Tennessee got blown out of the stadium by South Carolina last night. Paul went to the office yesterday and when I knocked off for the day I started watching that game because the LSU game started later, and wow, who saw that coming? Or Arkansas blowing out Mississippi? LSU played well despite poor weather conditions and managed to beat UAB 41-10 for their ninth win of the season, with Texas A&M all that is left in the regular season. LSU could have a rare ten win regular season for the first time since 2019, which nobody saw coming, with an extremely outside shot at the play-offs–which would require beating Georgia for the SEC title, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. But what a marvelous turnaround season for my Tigers. Who knew?

I have groceries to pick up, writing to do, need to pack, need to air up the car tires, and have all kinds of things on the list to do today. Yikes. I cannot let Paul distract me or suck me into a Saints game or anything either before six pm this evening; I have to get everything done in that time frame because that’s when I am calling it a day and taking the rest of the evening off. I don’t want to have to get up super-early tomorrow, but the good news is I don’t think I need to get up at six unless I do so organically, which is, of course, entirely possible. I have to make sure the books I am listening to in the car are downloaded and ready to go when I pull away from the curb tomorrow morning, and I need to pay a bill or two today as well.

I also managed to get better organized yesterday–still not completely there, or as organized as I should be, going forward–but it helped to have the book research and my notes and everything all pulled together into one place for review. I am most likely going to close my browser when I finish posting this for the duration of the day; although I am going to want to spend some time later composing emails to send tomorrow morning before I leave for the trip. It’s never ending being a Gregalicious, I have to say. But this was a good weekend; I feel like I’m getting my head back together and back into the game, and it feels functional again, which is saying something. Maybe it’s just because I feel rested this morning, I don’t know and can’t really say for sure, but it is very nice to wake up and feel rested and relaxed and have my mind working completely.

I hate feeling tired more than anything, really.

But my coffee tastes marvelous this morning and I feel terrific. There’s still some serious cleaning to do as well–isn’t there always? There’s a load of dishes needing to be put away and another load ready to go inside of the dishwasher, too–the endless cycle of use and clean, use and clean, ad nauseum ad infinitum. Will this last and will I get everything off my to-do list before six this evening? It remains to be seen, but I do know that right now I feel great and hope this will last through the day. We’ll see how it all goes, but I am optimistic right now and that’s always a plus, really.

And on that note, I am going to get another cup of coffee and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and I’ll chat with you again tomorrow.

Miranda

Monday morning and it’s very bright this morning. The time change–I’d forgotten that it means getting up in the light and coming home from work in the dark. It’s also interesting how much that changes in one day. It was already getting dark before four yesterday, and was completely night by five. I don’t like the change, to be honest; it doesn’t help me get up in the morning and it makes me feel like the day’s been wasted by the time I get home because there’s no more daylight. It’s another one of the reasons I don’t like winter, to be honest, but at least down here in New Orleans it never gets super cold or snows, which does make it somewhat more bearable. I still don’t like coming home after dark, though.

Yesterday wasn’t a great day for me. I was very tired all day, despite sleeping really well, and never really felt like I had any energy. I tried to write for a while yesterday morning but got nowhere with it, which is causing me more than a little bit of stress today, and so I ended up watching a lot of television. We finished off the first season of Interview with the Vampire (more on that later), the first season of The Serpent Queen, watched the most recent Andor, and got caught up on American Horror Story. We also watched a movie called Nobody with Bob Odenkirk, which was interesting and a bit of a different approach to the usual “Dad gets vengeance” movie before finally toddling off to bed. I didn’t sleep especially well last night either–I kept waking up and had trouble falling back asleep, but it was a better night’s sleep than Saturday’s, so I will take it.

I think I had trouble sleeping Saturday night because I was so emotionally caught up in the LSU-Alabama game; I was a bundle of nerves and raw energy and anxiety the entirety of the game (which I still can’t believe we won; who would have ever thought we’d beat Alabama this year; everyone is very high, obviously, on Coach Kelly now). And now, of course, that we’ve actually beaten Alabama (first time in Baton Rouge since 2010) people are talking about LSU running the table this year and making it to the play-offs as the first-ever two loss team to get that far. One thing for sure is that LSU could certainly mess things up for the play-offs this year; who do they take if LSU does the improbable and hands Georgia its first loss of the season and wins the SEC? One loss Tennessee, who lost to Georgia and didn’t win their division? Georgia, defending national champion with one loss but didn’t win the SEC and lost to LSU? A two loss SEC champion LSU that lost to Tennessee? How do you decide between the three of them? And if you take two, as has been done occasionally in recent years, which two? This year is very reminiscent of the chaos of 2007–when a two-loss LSU team won the BCS title over Ohio State; the only two loss team since 1960 to be crowned national champions, and the only one of the championship game era (Georgia also only had two losses that year, and were highly ranked; they had a good argument but losing their division and not playing for the conference championship ruled them out–although both Alabama and Georgia have both won the national title without being SEC champions). It will be interesting. I am that Doubting Thomas still; certain we can win out the regular season by staying focused and disciplined, but I don’t know if LSU could match up with Georgia. I still think it likely that both Tennessee and Georgia are the most likely two to go to the play-offs, if the SEC winds up with two; but I also didn’t think LSU would beat Alabama this year, either.

Which shows how much I actually know, you know?

I wasn’t able to finish this before leaving the house for work this morning–I told you, the time change, combined with some insomnia and low energy days, have really messed with my mind; I was so tired this morning I even considered hitting the snooze button a third time–so here I am on my lunch break, trying to get it finished and posted so I don’t miss a day. (Being a completer can sometimes be a real problem, you know?) After I get off work today I have to run uptown and get the mail as well as pick up some groceries from the store–nothing much, just a couple of things, but might as well stop and get it over with, you know? I also hope to get some serious work on the book done tonight as well. I hate having lost the weekend, but low energy is low energy.

I did manage to read some of Wanda Morris’ new book this weekend (at the rate I’m going I won’t finish it until probably my trip to Kentucky), but also managed to read a new-to-me Daphne du Maurier short story, included in the collection Not After Midnight and Other Stories (it also includes, as every du Maurier collection does, “Don’t Look Now” and “Not After Midnight”). I’d gotten the book from eBay after finding out that it included “A Border-line Case”–which I enjoyed–as well as two other stories I’d not read, “The Way of the Cross” and “The Breakthrough.” This weekend during Georgia’s mauling of Tennessee I read “The Way of the Cross”, and really liked it. It’s long, as all du Maurier stories often tend to be, and it’s actually quite a nasty little story that spins out over the course of a twenty-four period with a small group of British tourists visiting Jerusalem and the Holy Land, most of them from a small village. Their vicar was supposed to be their tour guide for this visit; but he was taken ill and another available minister-type, who doesn’t know any of them and isn’t really completely comfortable taking over, has been asked to fill in. It’s one of du Maurier’s nastier little stories, but the reason it is so nasty is because of its brutal, unflinching honest view of the characters, none of whom really come out of the story well. What is particularly interesting is how illustrative this story is of du Maurier’s own cynical view of humanity, but her gifts make the characters so absolutely real it feels like the reader is literally looking inside their souls. The characters all have definite opinions of who and what they are; as well as their own histories. What happens throughout the course of this story is everyone is gradually humbled and made to take off their own rose-colored glasses and inevitably are forced to look at themselves and their lives very clearly–usually by overhearing two of the other characters talking about them. It’s a terrific story, and one I will definitely be revisiting at some point. (I also like they are visiting the Holy Land but definitely are not very Christian…)

And now it’s time to head back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader–and oh yes, for the record: the reaction to Jayden Daniels’ overtime touchdown and later, the two point conversion did, indeed, register on the seismograph on campus. So, it, like the 1988 Auburn game, qualifies not just as an “earthquake” game but a double earthquake game.

GEAUX TIGERS!

Thrown Down

I still am in shock. LSU beat Alabama. I didn’t even dare to hope or dream–sure, every once in a while I’d think my God, if we can pull this off–nah, it’s Alabama. Nobody gave the Tigers a chance, not even me. Yes, of course I wanted to win, hoped we could somehow pull it off (I am always slightly uncomfortable saying we in these instances, reminding myself I am not a part of the team or student body but merely a devoted, rabid fan), but never really wanted to get my hopes up. I’ve hoped and been excited so many times before when I thought LSU had a chance, only to be bitterly disappointed with the inevitable last second Alabama comeback. The Tigers hadn’t beaten Alabama in Baton Rouge since 2010, and had only beaten them once in total since 2011. Add in this would be Alabama’s second regular-season loss (which rarely happens), as well as the fact that Alabama hasn’t had two losses early in November since 2010, so, yeah, you can see why I had my doubts about my Tigers’ chances against the greatest football power of this century. What Coach Saban has done at Alabama is astonishing, remarkable, and may never ever be duplicated by any other team in college football. No one has won the national championship without having to beat Alabama since 2006, with the only exception being 2013–and Auburn, who lost the title game that year, had to beat Alabama to get there. And unlike some of the disappointed Alabama fans–and the haters who relish any loss by Saban and Alabama–I don’t think this is the end of the Alabama dynasty or the Saban juggernaut. It’s also kind of amazing that a two-loss season triggers that kind of talk–which goes to show what a standard Alabama has set for the college football world.

And now Brian Kelly owns the state of Louisiana. Any haters or doubters have been forever silenced. He beat Alabama with a team that had already lost twice, came within a whisker of losing to Auburn, and had only thirty-nine scholarship players left for our bowl game loss after last season. Jayden Daniels, our transfer quarterback, has now done something that not even Joey Burrow could accomplish with his first season at LSU: beating both Auburn and Florida on the road, and beating Alabama. I still am having trouble wrapping my mind around this, I hope you know that, Constant Reader. I fully expected to wake up this morning and find that it had all been a fever dream, that I dreamt it and the game was actually tonight. But no, LSU did beat Alabama with a two-point conversion in overtime that was the gutsiest thing I have seen this season from LSU. And they played their asses off all night.

What a fucking game, seriously.

LSU went three-and-out on their first possession. Alabama marched down the field with ease on their first possession…before Bryce Young threw an interception in the end zone to kill the drive. Alabama made it into the red zone four times in the first half, but only had six points at half-time. LSU had managed to take advantage of a short field to score the first half’s lone touchdown to lead 7-6 at the half. I couldn’t believe it as I watched from my easy chair. The defense was astonishing, making play after play and even after a big play by the Tide, would stiffen and hold. The Tigers fell behind 9-7 in the third quarter, only to score another touchdown to take a 14-9 lead into the fourth quarter. And all through the fourth quarter, as Alabama kept coming back and coming back, LSU kept fighting, clawing their way back into the game. When we got the ball back with the score tied 24-24 with twenty-one seconds left, I questioned Coach Kelly’s decision to take a knee and not try to move the ball into field goal range. Alabama got the ball first in overtime, and after about five or so plays took a 31-24 lead. This is it, I thought to myself, this is how we lose, but hey, it was a much better game than I was expecting and I am so proud of this team! And then Jayden Daniels, on LSU’s first play, scampered twenty-five yards for a touchdown and Coach Kelly decided to go for two and the win, and again, I thought, this is where we lose but I am so proud of those boys only to watch Daniels flip the ball to Mason Taylor in the corner of the end zone and to my shock, delight, and disbelief, LSU won the damned game.

As someone tweeted, This may be unexpectedly the greatest game in the history of LSU football and Tiger Stadium.

And they weren’t wrong. Even in our worst seasons, LSU has always managed some kind of big win, even in our last two seasons of mediocrity we managed to upset Florida both years, and last season we also upset Texas A&M on the last game of the season. But beating Alabama in the same season where we lost to both Florida State and Tennessee (badly) did not seem in the cards. As the Tigers have improved and gotten better, coalescing as a team while Jayden Daniels became more and more comfortable as our quarterback, I kept thinking this year we’ll probably be 9-3 at best, but look out for next year. I still think we are going to be even better next year, but I was not expecting the Tigers to be in the driver’s seat in the West division in early November with a very strong chance at making the SEC title game; if Alabama beats Mississippi next week (and Saban rarely, if ever, loses two games in a row, let alone three in a regular season, LSU can clinch the division with a win over Arkansas. If LSU wins out–including a win over Georgia in the title game–they still won’t make the play-offs, as both Georgia and Tennessee have only one loss while LSU has two, and yes, lost to Tennessee. But Tennessee lost to Georgia…I see a lot of calls for play-off expansion if the unthinkable happens and LSU is an SEC champion who gets locked out of the play-offs. This is kind of like the 1989 season, when two loss Auburn tied with one-loss Alabama and Tennessee for the conference championship.

It’s really great to be a Tiger fan this morning. GEAUX TIGERS!

Save Me

Sunday morning and I guess there’s probably a Saints game today? I am a terrible fan this year–I can’t seem to remember ever to check on the schedule to see when the games are, so maybe it’s my fault they’re having a really terrible year? (Yes, Greg, because that’s exactly how professional sports work…)

The sun is bright this morning–it was gloomy, overcast and humid yesterday; I also got rained on while running my errands. I am having my morning cappuccino, which is marvelous, and feel like I again slept extremely well again last night. Ironically, despite the same feeling yesterday morning, I succumbed to fatigue much earlier than I thought I would yesterday, which didn’t bode well for getting things done the way I had hoped and/or wanted to. So, no, I wound up not getting nearly as much done yesterday as I had originally hoped I would; but I am also still at the point where I think any progress is better than no progress so I am taking the day as a win. I did have the football games on in the background while I tried to get things done around here, and they kind of turned out the way I figured they would: Mississippi taking down Texas A&M; Tennessee embarrassing Kentucky; and Georgia made a fool out of Florida. Missouri surprised South Carolina, and Arkansas embarrassed Auburn at home. The big surprise of the day was the way Kansas State embarrassed top ten ranked Oklahoma State–no one, I think, saw that coming. But this weekend did a good job of setting up next weekend: the winner of LSU-Alabama takes control of the West, while whoever wins Georgia-Tennessee will do the same in the East. I try not to get involved in the whole “conspiracy theory” aspect of fandom, in which some controlling elite wants certain outcomes to drive their ratings, but I can’t help but think everyone at ESPN and all the college football reporters are hoping for an Alabama win, to make the Alabama-Mississippi game matter in two weeks as a “winner takes all” battle for supremacy in the West. I don’t expect LSU to win, honestly; that’s almost too much to hope for (although I do hope it happens), and all I am really hoping for is another great game, not a blow out.

I think the weather had something to do with the doldrums I was suffering from yesterday. I don’t have that same feeling this morning, but at the same time I think maybe not waking up three mornings in a row to an alarm helps make me feel more rested for some reason. It doesn’t make sense (little does, really, when it comes to my mind and my theories about my life and so forth), but I am hoping that once I get this done and the kitchen repaired a bit (the sink has dishes, things need to be put away) I can dive into working on the writing and some other things I want to get done. I’m going to take a break momentarily after finishing this to read a short story by Paul Tremblay, after which I’ll get cleaned up and get a move on with everything.

Or so I hope, at any rate.

I watched an episode of American Horror Stories before I went to bed last night–the one called “The Lake”–and it was much better than the earlier episodes I’d seen. Alicia Silverstone, Teddy Sears, and pretty young Bobby Hogan were an appealing cast, and while the story was terribly derivative (the curse of towns flooded by dams is an old trope; there’s a great German show with a similar premise–but it’s also a trope I’ve always wanted to use as well), the acting was fine and the ending–while a little like The Fog, it worked within the construct of the story and was really the only way for it to actually come to an end. It reminded me, in some ways, of another idea I had for a story a long time ago–about college kids camping out in ghost town in the Sierra mountains in California that I’ve always wanted to write–but who knows if I will ever get around to that or not? It was entertaining, though, and now of course it’s Sunday–several of the shows we watch drop episodes on Sundays, but I can’t watch any of them until Paul gets home. Heavy sigh. Although I think tonight I’ll rewatch Halloween–the original. It is, after all, the seminal slasher movie and the one that kicked off the slasher craze of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s (along with Friday the 13th).

On the other hand, one can never go wrong with Scream, for that matter.

Well, I can figure out what I am going to watch later, right? It’s not like it is of the utmost importance to figure this out right now, either.

Or maybe I’ll watch a horror movie I’ve never seen before–there were so many in their heyday that I’ve not seen them all, like Terror Train or Prom Night–then again, on the other hand, there are so many it’s entirely possible I’ve seen some of them and forgotten that I have, as well. My memory is no longer trustworthy, after all–as I am finding out while writing this book–which makes me wish I’d written more things down over the years or been more faithful to keeping a journal; I’ve never been as faithful to a journal as I have been to this blog, for example. Yet another reason why I don’t write a memoir or many personal essays; I don’t trust my memory, and I know I have most likely revised my own personal history to make myself more of the hero of the story than I should be–it’s something we all do, really; it’s also how we perceive things, through our own lenses with all of our foibles and miscues and flaws helping to interpret and record things in that great back-up hard drive inside our skulls. We are all the heroes of our own story, even if we are the villain in someone else’s.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow morning.

Hold Me

I got my bivalent booster yesterday (I think that’s what it’s called) and am hopeful I won’t feel any ill effects from it this morning. If I do, oh, well. I am also taking a long lunch today so I can drive out to UNO to tape Susan Larson’s show The Reading Life to talk about Streetcar, which feels a little strange. I am so deep in the weeds with this new Scotty book that it’s weird to shift back into my Streetcar mentality and talk about a book I wrote over a year ago. Ah, well, we’ll see how it goes, won’t we?

I feel okay this morning. I woke up early–around three–and dozed off and on until the alarm went off. I don’t think the booster has made me unwell (unlike it’s four predecessors), or at least not yet at any rate, but I’m still pretty jazzed that I finally got a vaccination that didn’t even make me slightly feverish for twenty-four hours or so. This is a plus; I was a bit worried about being coherent for the radio taping today because of the booster–but it seems as though my level of incoherence will just be the usual, normal one that I always bring to an interview. *Whew*

I did some terrible work on the book yesterday but it was forward progress and I will take it, you know? The book is a mess, but sometimes the first draft is a mess and needs to be so you can fix it and clean it all up later and turn it into something coherent. That’s the plan, at any rate. Yesterday was a pretty productive day, both at the office and at home; I’m getting some training on how to do more things to go along with my promotion and raise (did I mention that? I think I did), both of which were significant. My job is essentially remaining the same, with some new added responsibilities (which make sense for me to do, really) that I have to learn how to do, and of course Friday I am going into the office to get a flu shot and so I can drop off this wretched cable modem (don’t even get me started on this)–the only Cox office in the city is a few blocks from the office–and then of course it’s the glorious weekend again. LSU is playing Florida on Saturday night (which may be painful; we’ve beaten them three years in a row and the last couple of times they were heavily favored–two years ago was the notorious Shoe Game in which one of their players threw an LSU player’s show twenty yards down the field for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that kept an LSU scoring drive alive; that drive also handed LSU the win; last year’s game was also kind of insane with all kinds of crazy plays and turnovers and so forth), and I should probably check when the Saints are playing–although they seem to do better when I don’t watch this season for some reason–and then plan my weekend around it. I’ve got to do a major push on the book this week and weekend; I’ve got to get back on schedule with this stupid thing.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I had a spell of not feeling so hot there for a moment, and when I was brushing my teeth earlier I noticed that my left shoulder (which is the arm that took the vaccine yesterday) was pretty sore; at least when I move my arm I am very aware of the general vicinity of where it was punctured. I think I can power through, however.

Last night we started watching another Spanish language show (we decided The Midnight Club, while sort of entertaining, wasn’t compelling enough and we can finish it another time) called Diary of a Gigolo, which of course is filled with DRAMA and all kinds of bizarre twists and turns with a rather large cast of characters and a lot of backstory and yet…not a single dull moment nor did we have any confusion about the multitude of plots–which is even more impressive when you realize it was in a foreign language and we were reading subtitles. (I do think there is something to watching shows with the closed captioning turned on; it forces me to pay attention and not let my mind wander–interesting.) I also spent a little time reading Interview with the Vampire while I was waiting for Paul to come downstairs so we could watch television. I am rather looking forward to continuing with Diary of a Gigolo (which, for the record, is far superior to American Gigolo, which just didn’t hold our interest at all) this evening after a conference call I have tonight. Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. May your Tuesday be as amazing as you are, Constant Reader, and I’ll be back in the morning tomorrow to check in yet again.

Beautiful Child

GEAUX TIGERS!

It is insanely early to have a kickoff in Tiger Stadium at eleven in the morning–I think I actually went to a game that started this early; I remember we had to get up at eight to get ready and barely managed to get into the stadium and into our seats as the band took the field for Pre-game (always one of the highlights of a game there; if you don’t know what LSU’s Pregame is, it’s that song the band plays that has those four notes–bah, BAH bah bah! (to me it always sounds like Hold That Ti-ger!)–and the entire stadium erupts. I mean, it really does. If you ever have a moment to kill, go to Youtube and search for LSU Marching Band Pre-game–you should immediately recognize the music. But having the game so early for me means I’ll most likely be emotionally and physically drained after it ends, and I’ll probably get sucked into the chair watching games all day (I mean, I should watch the Georgia-Auburn game, even if it is going to be a bloodbath), but hopefully I’ll find some time to make notes and do some reading as well.

I slept very well last night (again), which was really super nice, and we finished Your Honor last night–didn’t see that ending coming, apparently it’s been renewed for a second season–and also started watched this past week’s episode of Bad Sisters–God, how I hate John-Paul–and also caught this weeks Queer for Fear, which focused primarily on James Whale and Alfred Hitchcock, with a lovely section on Anthony Perkins (my God, what a beautiful man he was) and how Psycho essentially ended his career–to this day his failure to even be nominated for an Oscar for that performance is a crime; he should have won; it’s one of the best screen performances of all time–which both Paul and I enjoyed tremendously; I’m also looking forward to more of this documentary series. Yesterday I got my work done and ordered groceries to pick up tomorrow morning; I’m beginning to see this as a marvelous convenience rather than as simple laziness now and I kind of like this because it also keeps me from making impulse buys, which always drives the price up. I did pick up the mail and make a quick stop for a few things at the Fresh Market (they carry Clearly Canadian, which I used to love back in the day, but they never have strawberry, just cherry and blackberry–I always get blackberry), and I made Shrimp Creole for the first time in a very long time; I’d forgotten how marvelous that is. There’s plenty left over for me to take to work this week as well, which is even nicer. Huzzah!

I’m hoping for a lovely, restful, relaxing day today. I’ll probably do some cleaning and organizing during the games–have to do something with all that nervous energy, after all–and tomorrow is going to be a massive work day. I am going to finish Chapter Five tomorrow if it kills me, and possibly do Chapter Six; I have some other things to do as well that I need to add to the list so I don’t forget and wind up fucked. I’m also getting my booster shot on Monday; hope that doesn’t make me feel unwell. If it does, or is anything like the last one, I should just feeling mildly unwell for a day and be over it at that time.

I also picked up Interview with the Vampire to reread again, since it’s Halloween season and all, and the show is airing. I’ve not read Mrs. Rice’s work in a long time–I kind of want to go back and finish reading The Feast of All Saints, although I am sure it’s problematic now, as it is about the Free People of Color before the Civil War–and I’d forgotten how lushly stylized her writing is; I am also probably going to want to revisit The Witching Hour as well before it’s television adaptation starts airing in January. I rather famously didn’t care for this novel the first two times I read it; I finally was enthralled with it upon my third reading, in Hawaii. I read all of her work after that until she switched to Jesus and angels; I never really came back to her when she turned to werewolves before finally coming back to Lestat and vampires. At some point I intend to read the final Lestat novels, and I should probably read The Mummy sequels she co-authored with her son.

I’ve not been feeling terribly creative this past week, despite the need to work on the book as well as the little work I have done on the book, and I am hoping that changing my work schedule will help me to feel somewhat less off-kilter in my life than I’ve been feeling since I started coming in on Fridays and staying home on Mondays. I’ve never really adjusted to it, honestly, and this feels so right, you know? I feel like my life has sort of gotten back on track since this switch was made again. I could be completely wrong; who knows? By Tuesday it’s entirely possible that I might be so tired and exhausted I won’t be able to function the way I should be able to when I get home from the office. But I am hoping that won’t indeed be the case, obviously, and thus far it has made a significant difference in how rested I feel.

Which is a good thing, really.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader–I may be back later, you never know; if not, I’ll chat with you tomorrow.

Love in Store

Friday and my dream has come true: I have switched my work-at-home day from Monday back to Friday,. effective today, and I am so pleased. I’ve never adjusted to not being in the office on Mondays (I’ve always, no matter what, come into the office for regular workdays the entire time I’ve worked here unless it’s a holiday or I was on vacation), and now I can finally get a handle on what goddamned day of the week it is from now on.

Jesus.

I slept really well last night, which was marvelous. We watched more of Your Honor last night (which is one of the longest limited series I’ve ever encountered, every time I think well, this episode must be the finale it will end and queue up yet another episode. It turns out (I just looked) that there are ten in total, so I think we have two more, and it’s apparently been renewed for a second season, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, it’s an interesting show–I also love that the local crime family’s name is Baxter, which for some reason just cracks me the hell up–but it doesn’t really hold my interest the way it should; I often find myself scrolling through social media apps on my iPad while the show is on, so I miss things that could probably help it make more sense than it does; but as Paul said last night, “they really make New Orleans look beautiful,” which the show does quite well.

Then again, New Orleans is beautiful, so they are starting from a very good place there. (One of the only reasons I could bear watching Southern Charm: New Orleans was because the city was shot so beautifully)

Today, as I already mentioned, I am back to working at home. I got my second monkeypox vaccine this week, and my body’s reaction to the second shot has been a lot more interesting than the first. The first just left me with a small pinkish red circle on my arm, maybe about a half-inch in diameter. The second left an enormous angry red circle on my other arm with a large bump in the middle so that it kind of looks like a massive spider-bite. This morning its size has receded a little bit, but I imagine I am going to end up with the same thing on this arm as I have on the other; a small slightly reddish circle around the injection spot. (When I show it to people, they can always pick out where it is but you have to actually look to see it, if that makes sense? It’s not noticeable unless you’re looking for it.) I am getting my next COVID booster on Monday, and I am really thinking that as cold/flu season is upon us again I may start masking everywhere again because it’s really been lovely not getting either a cold or the flu the last couple of years. Are masks a pain in the ass sometimes? Absolutely. But so is getting sick, and I don’t understand how putting yourself at risk of catching any illness is some kind of power statement. I don’t care if I am nauseous and feverish and can’t keep food down for a few days! FREEDOM!

I was exhausted when I got home again last night–I am kind of hoping the change in “work-at-home” days will help me with that–and so I pretty much just vegetated for the majority of the evening. Scooter demanded a lap to sleep in and I was only too happy to oblige. How did I pass the evening before Paul came home? Lost in thought about my book and mindlessly, effortlessly scrolling through social media feeds until Paul came home. The exhaustion is problematic, to be sure; when my brain is too tired to actually focus enough to read a book–which is and has always been one of the great pleasures of my life–to escape reality and allow my brain to relax, well, there’s something wrong and I don’t like it. Am I just getting older? I am sleeping better–more deeply and longer–than I have in a very long time, and yet…

But I did think about the book last night while I idled away my early evening, which isn’t a bad thing. The plot is a bit complicated, and as always, I worry about straying away and creating subplots and misdirections that I’ll forget to tie up and/or resolve by the end of the books, and since I’m not Raymond Chandler, my plots have to make sense. Sigh. It must have been nice being Chandler and getting away with having plots that didn’t make sense; I’ve not read all of Chandler’s work and right now I have The Long Goodbye sitting in my TBR pile–and as much as I want to get to it, I need to finish reading my current book and read some horror for the month of October. I want to find my copy of Interview with the Vampire for one thing–maybe during the LSU-Tennessee game I can do some work on the books, with the intent to find my copy of that as well as clear out some more for donations–so I can reread it and ‘salem’s Lot back to back, and maybe even revisit a Peter Straub before moving on to new writers and new books I’ve not read. I also recognize how ambitious that sounds, given how much trouble I’ve been having focusing on reading, but rereads aren’t the same as new reads–and it was rereads that got me back into reading again after the Shutdown in 2020.

Sighs happily. That was when I revisited Mary Stewart, and how delightful was that?

All right, I should head into the spice mines now. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader–and I’ll talk to you again tomorrow before the game.

Never Forget

And now it’s Thursday, which always sort of feels like we’re on a greased slide heading into the weekend. Hurray! I slept really well last night, which was really nice, and was awake (as usual) before the alarm went off. Yesterday wasn’t a complete waste–the primary thing when I am mentally fatigued, as I was yesterday, is that it’s very hard for me to focus and incredibly easy for me to get distracted.

Not that it’s ever difficult to distract me from anything. I should have been voted most distracted when I was in high school.

I did pull some teeth, er, work on the book yesterday; it wasn’t easy and was incredibly difficult to get those words on the page, but that happens sometimes. It happened earlier this week and I wrote some shitty words and then turned around and revised them and finished the chapter, remarkably easily; I hope that will be the case when I get home tonight and sit down to the computer to start writing. I am still behind as ever on everything, but I am slowly starting to make some progress. I think Saturday this weekend is going to be a completely lost day for me–that eleven a.m. start time for the LSU-Tennessee game is perfectly timed to pretty much spoil the entire day; I may order groceries for pick-up after the game is over. I don’t know, I’ll probably play it by ear and see how the day goes, but I doubt very seriously I’ll get any writing done on Saturday–so maybe I can just sit in my chair and edit, I don’t know. The games stress me out so much; it’s insane that this is something I enjoy but I also need to remind myself, regularly: it’s just a game and it doesn’t really impact your life one way or the other; obviously it’s better to win than to lose, but in either case it doesn’t change anything in my day-to-day existence so why waste the energy getting so worked up over a game? There’s a reason that “fan” is derived from “fanatic”…which is something I remind myself every time I am watching a game and starting to get worked up. So incredibly crazy to get worked up over a college football game that really doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things…

Which of course means I’ll be screaming at the television before the first quarter is half over.

I don’t think I am going to make the deadline for next year’s Bouchercon anthology; I have a story but I am not pleased with it nor am I sure what the right way to fix it could be–it’s been languishing in my files for quite some time, I think I originally got the idea for it watching the true crime docuseries I’ll Be Gone in the Dark–how the rapist/killer would access his victims, through drainage ditches and canals running behind properties (which is yet another reason my parents always wanted a fenced yard) made me start thinking about that very thing; what if a gay couple came home after a night at a gala fundraiser, arguing all the way home in the car, come home to find their adopted daughter tied up in the house and she says he’s still in the house…it’s the end I am, as always, having trouble sticking the landing with. I think maybe I should print it out again and reread it at some point over the weekend (because I have so little else to do), and maybe something will come to me. I like the ending but I don’t think it necessarily works, which is the primary problem; I think everything works right up until the end–and then it kind of falls apart. But if I clean up some of the earlier stuff…you never know.

And who knows? Maybe I am being overly critical, and should just submit the story and see what happens.

We watched some more of Your Honor last night, which keeps going even further and further astray, but I am also starting to understand the casting of Bryan Cranston even more (he’s a very charismatic and talented actor) because this series has a bit of a Breaking Bad, noir feeling to it: you do something wrong–bend a law, perhaps–and then it continues snowballing and you’ve already lost your moral compass and when do you say “enough” to lies and cover-ups and crimes? Do you keep digging your own grave? The fun part about it is there’s not really anyway to foresee how this is going to go, which makes watching it all the more fun. We also watched Andor, which I am loving. Seriously, I love what Disney is doing with the Star Wars universe with the television shows.

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader and remember–it’s Friday Eve!

That’s Enough for Me

Ah, Saturday.

I have some self-care scheduled for today which will be lovely, and I am actually hoping to be able to make it to the gym tomorrow to start my working out again. I slept really well last night–I don’t know what it is about waking up on your own without the alarm that makes such a significant difference mentally and physically, but it does–and woke up a little while ago. I am swilling coffee as I type, the dryer is re-fluffing a load preparatory to being reloaded and run again with the load waiting in the washing machine, and I also have to empty and refill the dishwasher. I have a new cable modem to install–pray for me, seriously–and I am going to do some reading this morning before my self-care appointment. That’s the plan, at any rate. But it’s very nice to feel rested and with my day stretching out in front of me the way that it currently does. LSU’s game is tonight and is an away game–Auburn at Auburn–and I am not sure what games are on today during the day, but I will undoubtedly have them on the television in the background as I do things today. Paul has his trainer and then is going into the office to work on a grant so I have the whole day at home to myself, which is kind of nice, too.

I’ve also been debating getting a new microwave and, I don’t know, actually reading the manual so I know how to operate it properly? Ha ha ha, read the manual, as if.

But most importantly, today I need to get back to work on the Scotty book and the other project I am working on. I am going to read Donna Andrews for a few hours this morning before moving on to rereading the Scotty chapters again so I can fix the mess that is Chapter Three so I can write chapters four and five this weekend. It would be amazing to write a chapter a day for a couple of weeks, but I am shooting to have the first real draft of this finished by Halloween, so I can fix it in November and turn it in on time in December, which would be amazing. I have another project in the works to follow that one, and I also have to finish the other project I am working on, but I am trying to get that done by doing a single chapter of it per week. I’ve fallen off my writing schedule since Bouchercon and the back injury considerably, and I really need to get back on that horse.

I also have a book coming out in December, so I also need to spend some time figuring out how to do promo in November. Heavy heaving sigh.

Last night was nice. I wound up staying at the office far later than I’d intended to–things happen–and so I came straight home. Paul came home and left for the gym, so I futzed around and moved things and can’t really remember a whole lot of what I did other than scrolling through social media on my iPad while videos streamed on autoplay from the Youtube app on my television. When Paul came home we watched the next two episodes of Reboot, which concludes everything that has already aired so we have to wait for the next episode to drop (which is disappointing) but it just keeps getting better and better. I am actually enjoying Paul Reiser, whom I’ve never been able to enjoy in anything since his masterful turn as the corporate villain in Aliens–I hated that character so much that it has colored everything Reiser has done ever since, but he is terrific in this; definitely Emmy-worthy for sure–and the writing is just so smart and funny and clever; and Johnny Knoxville is also amazing. The entire cast is amazingly perfect. I cannot recommend this show highly enough. I am curious to see where it is going to go–the premise is so clever, and so many shows never manage to develop much beyond “clever premise”–but hope it remains as light and fresh and funny as it started.

Ah, the morning continues to slip through my fingers, so I am going to bring this to a close and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader.

Chick-a-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)

I love football.

I know, it catches people off-guard that a sixty year old gay man is a massive football fan, but I’ve never subscribed to stereotypes. I love football, with an especial love for the college game (I used to only watch the Saints in the NFL, but have started rooting for the Cincinnati Bengals because, well, Joe fucking Burrow); I think everyone knows I am a massive LSU fan. (GEAUX TIGERS!)

There really isn’t anything else in the world like a Saturday night in Death Valley. I will remember the 2019 night game against Florida probably for the rest of my life. God, what a great game, and it was so much fun. I am aware that I am digressing.

Anyway, I grew up in a Southern football family (even if we didn’t live in the South, we were from the South and that’s all that matters), so it was inevitable that I should become both a football fan and a football player. I played all four years in high school, all of my cousins also played, and I have close relatives who played at both the college and professional levels (and I don’t mean some small college in the middle of nowhere; I mean in the SEC–Auburn and Alabama, and there may be even more that I don’t know about). I have relatives who were successful coaches. Every fall Saturday the television was tuned into whatever college game was playing–even if we weren’t fans of either team; it’s hard to imagine now with the 24/7 college football coverage, but when I was growing up ABC had a monopoly on all NCAA football games. They would usually play one game of national significance, and then the second game was regional–important to that region. As we did not live in the South, we rarely got to see SEC games other than Alabama–Alabama was almost inevitably the only Southern team of “national interest” throughout the 1970’s (I really don’t remember the 1960’s much, but we lived in Chicago so I imagine we saw a lot of Big Ten and Notre Dame games; I don’t really remember a lot of my life before the suburbs, really–some things, yes, but most things not so much)

I’ve never really read a lot of fiction about football, though; it inevitably winds up being something cliched and tired. I loved North Dallas Forty by Peter Gent; hated Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins; but do remember enjoying End Zone by Don DeLillo (I was going to reread this recently; but there’s so much to read. I did try to to reread Semi-Tough–but when I opened the book there were racial slurs and other mess on page one, so I threw it in the trash; no thanks). And I’ve also enjoyed other books with football involved, even if it wasn’t necessarily what the book was about. (The Hardy Boys were on the Bayport High football team in The Crisscross Shadow–the only time football is mentioned in the series.) There’s also a tendency, in books about high school and football to make the football players and cheerleaders the villains of the story, which has never really sat right with me. I was never bullied by anyone on the football team, and maybe the cheerleaders weren’t bitches to me because I was on the team and my sister was a cheerleader, but that wasn’t my experience (one thing I truly appreciated about Stephen King’s Christine was the horrible bullies at Libertyville High weren’t the football players but the hard-case kids–which was also my experience; which is probably yet another reason the book is one of my favorites of the King canon, methinks).

But…I can also see why it’s so attractive to make the jocks and cheerleaders the villains of high school dramas. And I sort of did something similar in #shedeservedit, didn’t I? Those boys on the Marysville and Steubenville high school teams certainly fit the bill of villainy.

So, when people started recommending Eli Cranor’s debut Dont Know Tough to me, I wasn’t so sure. I just published a book of my own about high school football and the toxicity it can engender in a small town (#shedeservedit), and revisiting my memories of high school and football was harder than I had thought it would be; I thought I could be dispassionate about it all while writing about it (I often write about things to try to distance myself from them and gain some perspective) but I was wrong. It was hard to write that book, much harder than I thought it would be–and it took years (first draft was written in 2015; published in 2022).

But enough people whose opinions I respect were raving about the book, so I got a copy and once I started reading it, there was no way I could stop.

Still feel the burn on my neck. Told Coach it was a ringworm this morning when he pick me up, but it ain’t. It a cigarette, or at least what a lit cigarette do when it stuck in your neck. Just stared at Him when He did it. No way I’s gonna let Him see me hurt. No way. bit a hole through the side of my cheek, swallowed blood, and just stared at Him. Tasted blood all day.

Tasted it while I saw in Ms. Miller’s class. Woke up in Algebra tasting it. Drank milk from a cardboard box at lunch and still, I tasted it. But now it eighth period football. Coach already got the boys lined up on either side of the fifty, a crease in between, a small space for running and tackling, for pain.

This my favorite drill.

I just been standing back here, watching the other boys go at it. The sound of pads popping like sheet metal flapping in a storm.

“Who want next?” holler Bull. Bull ain’t the head coach. Bull coach the defense. He as mean as they come.

One of my favorite books of all time about small towns is Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show (I also love the film, which is extraordinary and one of, in my opinion, the best films made during the 1970’s). I did try to reread it recently–I was interested in refreshing my memory of its gay subplots and the mental breakdown of poor Joe Bob Blanton, but I’d also forgotten the part about the bored teenaged boys decided to fuck some calves, so when I got to that part I put the book down in distaste. But now that I’ve finished Don’t Know Tough, I kind of want to go back and reread The Last Picture Show again (I can skip that distasteful part…weird that I didn’t remember it).

Don’t Know Tough is yet another incredibly impressive debut, further confirming the truth of what I said at the Lefty Award banquet–the last few years have seen so many amazing and diverse and extraordinary debuts that the future of our genre is in very good hands. I won’t lie–when I started reading the book, I wasn’t sure I could keep reading it; I was worried that the entire book would be written in that grammatically garbled first-person voice but as I kept reading that first chapter I got into the rhythm of the language and started seeing the beauty and fluidity of the style choice–which is no small feat to pull off, and pull off consistently, throughout the entire book…to the point I was also a little disappointed that the entire book wasn’t done in that same style. Billy Lowe is the character whose voice this is; and the story of the novel revolves around him and the horrific Shakespearean tragedy that his life actually is. His mother is an alcoholic, and lives with an abusive piece of shit who obviously directs violence at Billy. He has a younger half-brother who was fathered by this POS; he also has an older brother who lives elsewhere. Billy’s situation has turned him into a wild beast of rage with an exceptional gift for channeling that rage into playing football. He’s not big enough in size to go major college, but his coach feels like there’s a chance he could get a football scholarship to a smaller college, and break the cycle of poverty he is trapped in at the moment. Billy is exceptionally compelling–it’s hard to read his first person point of view and not have your heart break for this kid; and hope that it’s all going to work out for him in the end, despite the disturbing pattern of violence in both his life and behavior.

Denton High has made the Arkansas state play-offs, but without Billy in the backfield their chances of advancing are practically nil. It’s important for Denton to do well in the post season because their coach’s job depends on it. Trent Powers is a born-again Christian, whose last coaching job in California crapped out–winning only three games in his final three seasons before being fired. This job is another chance for him, even though his wife and daughters hate relocating to a small town in Arkansas from California (much is made throughout the book of Coach Powers’ Prius, seen by the locals are weird and strange and almost otherworldly and unmanly). Coach Powers also has a very soft spot for his star player, and not just because he’s a star player–he actually feels compassion for the horror the young player’s life has been up to that point, and he wants to help–even if Billy doesn’t want any help from anyone. Billy’s future, to Billy at any rate, is already set, and he’s not going to end up going anywhere or doing anything or having a good life and decent future. He doesn’t see himself being worthy of anything or of doing better than his assigned lot in life.

The Powers family is a direct contrast to Billy’s; loving and nurturing couple, raising two daughters and trying to do right by them. How far is too far to go when helping someone in Billy’s situation, is the question. Coach’s wife–the daughter of a successful football coach who took Trent in when he was a kid from a similar background as Billy’s…and yes, he slept with his coach’s daughter and got her pregnant. So both Coach and his wife have the fear that the same thing will happen to their daughter and Billy–especially when the daughter starts opening up to Billy.

But one night Billy’s abuser is murdered. No one would blame Billy for killing the abusive bastard–well, the law would. But the story of what happened that night is far more complicated, and far more surprising, than the reader can imagine.

The pacing is also exceptional, and I love the contrasts between the third person point of view we see much of the novel in, with the Billy point of view chapters mixed in. The language choices and imagery are spare and tight yet full and rich and immersive–reminding me not only of Megan Abbott and her brilliant Dare Me, but also with a healthy dash of Daniel Woodrell, Tom Franklin, S. A. Cosby, and Kelly J. Ford (all masters of Southern Gothic) mixed in. The little touches of how claustrophobic small Southern towns can be, the class disparities between the haves and the have nots, and what teenagers in those types of environments was simply masterful.

I was completely blown away by this amazing work, and suspect that you will be as well. Highly recommended. I cannot wait to see what Eli Cranor does next.