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Bad go-getting

Saturday 12/5/20

* Got a Christmas blend coffee at Starbucks and went for a three-mile walk in the nor'easter. Hadn't moved in days. Hadn't showered in days. Cleaned up now. Nobody out in this weather, of course. Something affirming about being on a bridge over the harbor as the rain lashes against you. I let out several heart "arrrrs," and also sang a few bits of "Good King Wenceslas."

* Have begun process of putting together proposal for book on the British The Office. Sent out a proposal the other day for a volume on Joy Division.

* Read over "Girls of the Nimbus" several more times, began drafting letters on its behalf. Utterly certain I've never done anything better. I composed "Fitty" in July 2019. But I did not get it fully right until early September of this year. Streamlined. Always moving forward. Even though it's a story which moves through different points of time. That's the paradox--you may be moving backwards in one way, but the story must always be moving forward. "Girls of the Nimbus" also moves through time. The difference was, this time I got it right in a matter of weeks, which was really just five or six writing sessions. Formal sessions. Part of the process was letting it stand, then returning. But when I say I'm getting better all the time, this is what I mean--the process becomes more compact, I get to the end result in less steps. The end result, in terms of quality, is always the same, and has been now for a long time. The improvement is in other ways, that people wouldn't know about, having just the various works in their hands. But I know about it. It's drastic and I can feel it every time I do improve. I know someone who thinks "Jute" is the best thing ever, someone else thinks it's "Dead Thomas," someone else Dark March, someone else Meatheads, someone else "Holds." Everyone is going to have their one, or ones. Personally speaking, for me, those ones are "Fitty" and "Girls of the Nimbus," or they are most among my ones. However one wishes to put it. I'll keep reading "Girls of the Nimbus" tomorrow morning. Just to make sure there is nothing that could be improved upon.

* I'm expecting that "Eede Upstairs," which I'll be doing in the near future, will be in that category, too.

* I didn't want to spend money on this, but I had to replace the coffee maker. The old one died after many years of service.

*I saw the first season of The Affair. Not very good. I can't be interested in something like this. A show about a mediocre writer, who is a selfish asshole, with a sex addiction problem. The idea about showing his perspective and her perspective doesn't work either. It's laborious. And makes no sense. We don't see differences of perception, so much as totally different memories that have nothing to do with each other like they don't have the same source. More like two completely different plots, like that parallel universe idea they beat to death in Lost. (Which was an effectively scary show early on.) I also saw the first season of City on a Hill. Bad as well. The start is an outrageous ripoff of The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Same plot. Same language--like with the "uncle" thing. The informer and the cop even meet around the corner at the same place at Government Center, fifty yards apart. After that it's just lazier, if anything. No one walks around quoting classic literature. Do you know anyone who does that? But everyone does it in this show? Come on. Grow up. This whole Boston crime show or movie is always such an auto-pilot deal. The Departed. This. The Town. Same exact crap every time. That rat at the end of The Departed is one of the most inept moves I've ever seen in movies.

* Decent work today, but must stay focused this month. The big three things: finally get Brackets revision back to Dzanc, do what I need to do with Sam Cooke, write a film book. A goal--get at least three more books under contract before the year is out. Five would be better. And obviously find a way to get more money coming in.

* Work sample has to be in with the Guggenheim next week. I'll send them a pdf of Meatheads.

* 90% of the female profiles on dating sites contain the phrase "live laugh love," or say nothing else but that, and each time I see it, the vapidity of that phrase goes through my skull like an auger.

* This was the hockey book idea:

"...a book on the art of hockey, via the ten greatest games ever played. Let me explain. I had an editor at the Boston Globe, who didn't know anything about sports, and one time when I cited the artistry in a given hockey game, he made some crack that these guys are akin to oxen pulling a plow. It was such an ignorant remark--and borderline offensive--but perhaps not an uncommon sentiment. What I want do to is focus on hockey components for the hockey diehard, but also to blow up hockey, so to speak--to look at what it teaches us, how it incorporates physics, geometry, a touch of the ballet, critical thinking. To posit hockey--at its best--as sports and life art. And show how and why, but while also serving up awesome analysis, historical tidbits, anecdotes, stories, and narrative-boosting context.

I played hockey at a high level, and quit to pursue writing, because I was better at that, but hockey has been invaluable in my life--in my life as someone who publishes fiction in Harper's, or a Beatles piece in Rolling Stone--because of what it taught me. It taught me how to see a painting and write about that in a way I wouldn't have otherwise been able to. To hear Bach's Art of Fugue and understand the commonality he had with Wayne Gretzky.

Now I'm not saying we dive way down deep into that sort of comparison. What I'm saying is that there is an art to hockey, a life quality, a humanness, and in looking at these games--and we'll get into all of the fun nitty-gritty of the games--we can learn a lot about life, and about a sport that goes beyond sport. So consider it dialed in hockey madness, that also transcends, "eh, here are dudes with skates and sticks and one-timers."

I like books that have a clear premise, but which can open up--and open us up--into richer worlds. From the clear premise, we can build. What we do is we take ten games, and you take as much time as you need with each game--each chapter. People, of course, will argue about those ten games, but that's good. I think anyone who reads my work knows that I know hockey history as well as anyone, but I also have others tools for this particular job that other people don't. The guy who is the hockey expert is the expert on Billie Holiday and does the fiction and writes on Picasso, this man who grew up in locker rooms, who has studied the game, who has studied these ten particular games."

* The Hollies are severely overlooked. Have had their "I Take What I Want" in my head all day. Dig the funky drum and vocal break.

* Everyone can fall, but not everyone can rally.

* Another excellent drum and vocal break (with bass and guitar) in the Remains' "Don't Look Back." Boston's own. Opened for the Beatles in 1966.

* Sam Cooke sang with an awful lot of ghost notes. Maybe more than anyone.

* One final drum break/groove song--actually, the entire song is a drum break. The Who playing "Baby Don't You Do It" in San Francisco in December 1971.

* Mozart died on this day, aged thirty-five, in 1791. His twelve variations on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" feature prominently in "Girls of the Nimbus."

* It is impossible for me to hear Elvis' "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" and not think he is singing about anal sex. "Coming down your chimney tonight," etc., with the voice quavering as he sings that line.

* Ha.

* Orson Welles--specifically how he builds rhythm via editing--and Laurel and Hardy and The Office belong to a shared vein of cinema.

* I've been studying various parody masses and paraphrase masses from the sixteenth century today. Exploring further how composers work those two different forms.

* All right. I'm off. Going to watch the Boston College v. Virginia football game.


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