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Thursday 7/22/21

Have had a brutal migraine for several days.

I wrote a story today called "The Backyard Dancer." It was good. A ghost story. Scary, touching, haunting, causes someone to ask questions. It was also the 300th work of short fiction I've written since June 2018. I don't know what to say about that. I don't know how you quantify it historically. Other than to say that you can't. All of those characters, narratives, emotions, voices, styles. All of that art and all of it on that level.

The new story--a highly relative term in my world--involves this guy who tells us he was once at a party where people were sharing stories about the most drugs they'd done in a day. He wasn't really a drug guy as an adult, but there was a time as a kid when he his dad was out, and his mom was taking a nap on the couch, and he got into these tabs she had in the nightstand by her bed, behind some books. He takes a few of them, because he thought they looked like multi-colored Tic Tacs, and goes up into his room. He's feeling woozy, so he sits besides the window. The house is fairly isolated, with about a half mile of forest following on from an unkempt backyard. Sometimes he sees deer there, and they see him up in the window. He's five, six, seven, somewhere in there. This time, he sees this girl that he figures is his age dancing in the backyard, but she's hard to see, exactly, because she's blending in with the mist. It's been a cool early spring, with lots of hail, and the ground is hard. She's doing this kind of balletic dance, and he's certain of a couple things. That she's not alive. He knows that. But she's also not dead. And they're going to have an interaction, and there will also be what may be a third party. She ends up doing something for him. So the guy tells this story at the party, and people are like, cool, wow, far out, all of that, and then, as these things go, someone else starts telling some account of the time they took a boatload of whatever. But we're not done. He describes a second scene, the day after, when he's not sick anymore, and he goes down to the spot where the girl was dancing.

I've changed again as well. I can feel it. This spring and summer, I've changed again as an artist.

Norberg was all gaga about this essay I did, and wants it to be a short story. I scoffed at the idea at first, and maybe I will still, but when I feel better I'll at least look into this. That might take a few seconds to say, nope, no way, or maybe there is something in it.

Did some work, too, on another story in my head that will likely be one of those works in the 2000-2500 range. Began going back into the Beatles book also. And redid the back cover copy for the upcoming Scrooge book.

What if someone were to say that the greatest version of A Christmas Carol wasn't a novella that a certain Londoner wrote in 1843, but rather a horror film to best all horror films, that emerged as a kind of nightmare made flesh in 1951?

That film was Scrooge, the lone masterpiece of director Brian Desmond Hurst's career, with a performance to live through the ages by Alastair Sim as everybody's go-to miser.

In probing every last nail hole of the darkest holiday film ever made, Colin Fleming moves from Dickens' original undertaking to the shadowplay world of German Expressionism, the realms of James Whale and Boris Karloff, noir, the ghost stories of M.R. James, the last, desperate, terrifying work of John Keats, and the "unofficial" English horror films from which Scrooge followed.

We see how this unique, stylistic melting pot of a movie strikes and clangs some very uncomfortable chords in our twenty-first century internet age where denial, narcissism, depression, and fear run rampant, as well as how Scrooge became a classic of the dark night of the soul, playing on flickering TV sets after most gentlefolk had gone to bed.

It's a studious, passionate celebration of the ultimate Christmas that serves mankind well throughout the year, a friend dressed up in the cinematic cerements of the dead to help relieve of us of the habits we cling to, the lies we nurse, and the self-doubt that binds us like packages we're too damn scared to open.

I think about the lyrics to the Dead's "New Speedway Boogie" a lot lately. Portion of a show here from Alfred State College, 5/1/70.


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