It's a beautiful sunny morning in New Orleans, in the mid-fifties; a lovely day for the parade route and the madness of crazy parades. Today is Okeanos, Mid-City, Thoth, and Bacchus. I slept very late this morning--over ten hours of sleep, which was lovely and needed, methinks. I wasn't feeling well yesterday, and despite feeling well-rested, we only went out for Iris and skipped Tucks after. I was fine through Iris, but when we came inside between parades I felt odd; muscle and joint exhaustion mostly, and a bit of nausea and maybe a touch of fever. So I chose to skip Tucks (marathon, not a sprint!) and stayed in my easy chair wrapped in blankets and reading.
The Lost Apartment is buried in beads and other throws.
Paul and I have discussed skipping the day parades and only attending Bacchus tonight; I'm not sure if that's actually going to fly. I've always enjoyed the Sunday parades when I didn't have to work, and Thoth of course is named for the Egyptian god of wisdom, so there are often Egyptian themed throws. An Egyptophile can hardly pass up such a parade, can he?
I got some fun old books in the mail this week that I purchased from ebay; including Margaret Millar's Mermaid and a hardcover edition of John D. MacDonald's The Lonely Silver Rain. Macdonald is one of my saved searches on there, as I am trying to read all of his (quite extensive) backlist of stand alone novels, most of which have been long out of print. Yet it occurred to me when this one popped up on my 'have you seen this?' list that I had never actually finished reading all of the Travis McGee novels.
Right? I was shocked to my inner core. I have read and reread Travis McGee for nigh on thirty years now; I had been fairly certain I'd read them all. But when this hardcover popped up on my list I scratched my head and couldn't remember it at all. Eh, I thought, it's a hardcover edition and it's cheap, so nothing ventured nothing gained.
It arrived, and, it turns out, I hadn't read it. Not only that, but apparently there are several others I don't think I've read as well!
I don't think I've read Cinnamon Skin either; I do think I've read Free Fall in Crimson, but I am not 100% sure. I'm not certain why I didn't read them; maybe I was, as is my wont, saving them so I wouldn't be finished with the Travis McGee books and then, of course, forgot about them. But it's very exciting, and I have discovered that all the McGee books have been reissued as trade paperbacks, in very lovely editions, and so have some of MacDonald's other stand alones.
This is a very good thing.
Anyway, Constant Reader is aware that probably more so than any other writer, I have been influenced by John D. MacDonald. Travis McGee inspired Chanse MacLeod; the tone of the books as I eventually wrote them may not have been influenced by MacDonald, but I am still a huge fan of the way he wrote.
Take the opening to The Lonely Silver Rain:
Once upon a time I was very lucky and located a sixty-five-foot hijacked motor sailer in a matter of days, after the authorities had been looking for months. When I heard through the grapevine that Billy Ingraham wanted to see me, it was easy to guess he hoped I could work the same miracle with his stolen Sundowner, a custom cruiser he'd had built in a Jacksonville yard. It had been missing for about three months.
That's a great opening. All of MacDonald's books--whether Travis McGee novels or stand-alones--have great openings.
Several years ago I was at a banquet for mystery writers, and the keynote speaker was talking about MacDonald and Travis McGee; at one point a woman whom I admire both as a writer AND as a person leaned over and whispered to me, "Ah, yes, Travis McGee and the magic wand that cures all women." I smothered a giggle; because it was very true, and something I'd never really noted when reading the McGee novels. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to read the books again, not as a fan but as a critic. I'd love to do a biography of MacDonald, along with critical analyses of his novels.
Someday, when I have time. (HA!)
Anyway, I need to get some work done today; the house is filthy and the parades are already rolling.
It never ends for one Gregalicious.
Carnival is a marathon, not a sprint.
I was exhausted last night when I tumbled into bed. It was a rather long day; started with doing laundry and then running to the grocery store. Alas, I didn't go early enough and all the parking was gone by the time I got home. So i had to lug the groceries two blocks, and after putting them away I had to head to work. I was already tired, so you imagine the groan when I got to the corner and saw that people were already camping out on the neutral ground ON TOP OF THE STREETCAR TRACKS. I smothered a self-pitying sob and started walking. After testing at the office for a few hours I then had two hours of condom patrol in the Quarter, and then got to walk home. Paul was in a parade mood though, and so we went out to the corner for D'Etat and Morpheus. Everything ached when I tumbled into bed last night, and I slept in this morning. I feel somewhat better--my leg muscles are still tired--but there's also only two parades today on St. Charles (Iris and Tucks) and so tonight I can recline and relax in my easy chair while resting my muscles up for the marathon of parades that is Sunday.
Heavy heaving sigh.
That's what I got at Morpheus. This is d'Etat:
It's gorgeous outside this morning, the sun is shining and the sky is deeply blue: a lovely but slightly chilly Iris Saturday.
All right, I suppose I should clean the kitchen some and maybe start a load of laundry before the parades get here.
You can either fight Carnival, or just surrender to the inevitable.
We have always lived inside what is called, in New Orleans lingo, 'the box': which means that we live inside the three main streets of the city that make up the parade route--Canal on the downtown side, Napoleon uptown, and St. Charles lakeside (the river side boundary is either Tchoupitoulas or the river itself; the parades often line-up on Tchoupitoulas making it impassible). This often presents a challenge, particularly when you work outside the box. Adding to the challenge is the fact that we live in the first block off St. Charles, between it and Prytania Street; our street is blocked off with sawhorses an hour or so before the parades start. Parking on our street is always a challenge under the best of circumstances; during Parade Season it is nigh impossible. So, even if I don't want to be involved in Carnival festivities, I have no choice. It cannot be avoided. On parade days when I have to work, I either take the streetcar to Canal and then walk through the Quarter to the office; or I have to walk the entire almost three miles. I then get to walk the three miles home, since Canal and St. Charles are closed and the streetcars aren't running. As I have mentioned before, this has been a boon for my Fitbit, as on parade days I easily blow past my daily goal of 10000 steps. It also means my legs get tired and my hips/ankles/knees get sore.
The joys of getting older.
Get off my lawn, you bratty kids!
And really, parades are a lot of fun--especially when all you have to do is walk to your corner.
Laissez le bon temps rouler, peeps!
Last night I slept deeply and well. I didn't wake up once, and when my alarm went off I really didn't want to get out of bed. Well, okay, that's every day--I miss the days when I used to wake up, wide awake and fully rested, at seven a.m. without a problem. It was also chilly this morning, which doesn't really encourage leaving the warmth of my magic blue blankets.
My legs are a little tired this morning. Yesterday I managed to catch the streetcar (there was one this morning as well) but still had to walk thru the Quarter; after my walk home last night I managed to get up to around 12,000 steps (take THAT, Fitbit!) but was really tired when I got home. Paul and I went out to the route for Nyx (we missed Druids), but only stayed for a little while. It was cold and it was also late, and I was already tired...so we came home and watched the final episode of Flesh and Bone. It was really good, dark and disturbing as the entire series was, and while the way it ended wasn't quite as satisfying as one would have hoped, perhaps--it did fit the show, and I have to applaud the writers for not trying to wrap it all up into a bow; it did make sense, and while maybe a bit unsatisfying, it was very true to the tone of the show.
And as a writer, I have to respect that. As a viewer, maybe not as much. But I do recommend the show.
The ballet in the finale, "Dakini", was beautiful, and something I would definitely pay to see in a theater.
So....maybe I am going to have to start watching ballet; definitely will have to if I am going to write about it.
There are worse things I could do.
And now back to the spice mines.
I was tired yesterday. I didn't sleep very well on Monday night apparently, and so all day yesterday I was physically tired, despite being mentally alert. SO, when I got home from work yesterday afternoon, I crawled into bed with my ARC of Megan Abbott's You Will Know Me, and finished reading it. It was amazing. Based on the three ARC's of 2016 releases I've read, 2016 is going to be an exceptional year for crime fiction. Alex Marwood's The Darkest Secret and Alison Gaylin's What Remains of Me are also exceptional, Constant Reader.
I've read so many amazing books and short stories lately, Constant Reader, that I am beginning to feel like a rank amateur.
Parades start again tonight, so in a moment I shall have to set out on foot for the office. Heavy sigh. But at least I know I will make my Fitbit steps for the day, and then some. I was awakened at around four in the morning by a quite intense thunderstorm, and then just kind of drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night, which was also not good. It's clearly time to mix up my sleeping medications again, heavy heaving sigh. But if I am going to have to do all this walking, as well as attend parades at night, I need to get some good, deep sleep.
I am so over this sleep thing, you have no idea.
It is so hard to get things done when you are tired, you know?
We've almost finished Flesh and Bone; we only have one episode left. It really is quite remarkable, if incredibly disturbing and dark. They certainly aren't afraid to go there, believe you me. But the story is fascinating, the acting extraordinary, and it's very well written. But man, oh man, is it ever dark. This, of course, inspires me and makes me think in a dark way, which is good on many levels.
At least, I think so, at any rate.
I've been finding a lot of old dance music from my party boy/single days on Youtube lately. I'm not sure what got me going there--I think I was looking for a video of an old Pet Shop Boys song, and that took me down the rabbit hole. It's been kind of fun listening to these old dance remix classics, like "Always" by Erasure (which inspired a short story I've never published) and "Let the Music Lift You Up" by Loveland and "Your Loving Arms" by Billie Ray Martin. I've saved many of them to a play list, and now when I'm cleaning I put the playlist on my computer and dance around the kitchen as I listen.
I used to have a lot of fun. :) But I also don't mind being an old married gay man, either.
There really was nothing like dancing in a sea of shirtless gay men. Sigh.
Okay, back to the spice mines.
Tuesday, and the last of the two lull, non-parade days of Carnival.
We continue to watch Flesh and Bone, which becomes darker and more complex with each episode. Between it and American Crime, it's a wonder I am not having horrific nightmares about the evil that men do. One of the things that I love about both shows is there really are no villains; people do things that might be considered bad and yet you understand them, feel sympathy for them--and isn't that a sign of some truly terrific writing?
Still haven't read any short stories lately; I am going to attempt to remedy that tonight when I get home from the office. Paul won't be home until late, which will give me time to come home and clean the kitchen and do some other household chores before settling into my easy chair with the iPad and the Megan Abbott ARC, which I am doling out to myself in small doses as rewards for getting things done, it's that good.
I woke up reluctantly this morning and am still sleepy. Caffeine doesn't seem to be working, either. It's a gray, gloomy, dismal day in New Orleans; foggy and the air is thick and damp, with a high level of humidity. My sinuses (sinii?) were in full revolt this morning when I woke up, but have since normalized. But it's so grim looking outside; almost Dickensian in the gloom. I almost wish it would just rain and be done with it, you know?
Work continues apace, albeit at a much slower pace than I would prefer. I have a stack of manuscripts--three, to be exact--on top of the file cabinet next to my desk at home that I need to revise and edit; I think part of the problem I am having with my work currently is that there is simply too much noise going on inside my head right now for me to focus, and I really need to focus on one thing in order to get it done. Madness, no? I hate that for me. Part and parcel of my undiagnosed ADD, methinks.
Seriously, I am beginning to bore even myself this morning. Not a good sign.
I am thinking about writing an abstract for an academic collection called Domestic Noir. I am not an academic, but I think I have a good knowledge of the subject I wish to tackle: the untrustworthy husband. When I was on my panel at the Tennessee Williams Festival last year, Rebecca Chance mentioned that she thought romantic suspense--aka the novels of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt and their colleagues--were actually women's noir; because they were all about the terrors and fears incipient in marriage and possibly marrying the wrong man, and this was indicative of the time. I've been wanting to write an essay on this subject ever since she said that; I think it's a very smart, and very apt, observation, and the book I wanted to use to make these points is Dorothy Eden's An Afternoon Walk; originally published in 1970 or so. The primary problem is I don't know how to write an abstract; I shall have to look it up somewhere, or ask someone who has actually done one. This, of course, doesn't bode well for my abstract being accepted into the book, but it will also serve as an impetus for me to write about the book, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.
I bought, and read, the Fawcett Crest paperback edition back in 1972 or so; I bought it from Zayre's.
I didn't much care for it on the initial read; when I reread it about fifteen years later I really loved it. I recently purchased a hardcover copy from eBay, and have been wanting to write about it, as I previously mentioned, ever since Rebecca's insightful remark on the panel; I immediately thought of this novel, and how it perfectly illustrated her point.
And now, back to the spice mines.
It's another gorgeous day in New Orleans. I slept in late again today; one of the great pleasures for an insomniac is a long, comfortable, good night's sleep--which is something I only seem to be able to accomplish on weekends these days. I'm not certain why that is, but there you have it.
We seem to have acquired another stray cat.
Bubba and Oreo are still around, but I haven't seen Shadow in a couple of days. This one, gold and gray and black, vanishes under the house when I open the door, which was Shadow's lair. I never hear any arguing or howling and hissing or anything that would indicate that the pride doesn't get along with each other, but Shadow's more of a loner and Bubba and Oreo tend to hang out together.
The silliness of kitties.
We didn't go outside to the corner for any parades yesterday; Paul played tennis yesterday morning and was worn out. I worked on my book and did some cleaning, and then tried a chicken pot pie slow cooker recipe, which Paul really liked (I wasn't hungry last night so I didn't have any). I'm debating whether I want to make a grocery store run tonight, or whether I want to get up early and go tomorrow morning. I do have to run to the post office tomorrow to get the mail, since I won't be able to again until Ash Wednesday, so maybe I can just get up really early and run over to Rouse's, get the mail, and pick up my prescription at CVS. Heavy heaving sigh.
We started watching a Starz show last night called Flesh and Bone, which is about a ballet company (yes, I told you I've been obsessed with ballet) and are only two episodes in. I like it, but Paul's kind of on the fence with it. Although I have to admit, while watching, I began to realize how difficult writing a novel about either ballet or figure skating would be; I'd really have to do a lot of research, interview dancers, and so on and so forth. It's still not a bad idea; I really love the idea, frankly, and the more I think about it the more I do.
It just amazes me what they can do with their bodies, you know? The kind of discipline and dedication that it takes, the desire and the drive...it really has noir written all over it.
This also has me thinking about a short story idea I had a long time ago; I was going to write it for an anthology many many years ago, but I never got around to writing the story. Sometimes it comes back into my mind, the way ideas will swirl around in the ether and then something will trigger it coming back to the forefront of my imagination again; a fantasy story called "Song of the Swan," which of course was loosely based on Swan Lake; and of course, that sent me into a rabbit hole of google images yesterday. ONe of you suggested I watch Matthew Bourne's all-male version of that ballet, and I will probably do so. Right now the ballet book--and the figure skating one--are interests that I can look into and research as a hobbyist; once I start writing them seriously I would have to do serious research.
And now, back to the spice mines.