* I kept waking up last night exhausted, as if clutching for more sleep, or gulping at water the way someone does when experiencing extreme thirst. I have done more in the first two weeks of this year than another writer would do in a sixty year career. Won't summarize it now. I will wait to see what happens. When I wake up I put on another Johnny Dollar show. The cable went, though, so I turned on the TV. I can't sleep without a stream of voices. Couldn't change the channel because of the cable not working properly, so it was stuck on this car show, taped sometime around Thanksgiving. These two commentators were telling the viewership about each vehicle that was rolled out slowly, as an auctioneer did that rapid fire voice. They were both so enthusiastic. They had knowledge and passion. I was thinking how many people might watch a show like this, and that pleased me, that there would be these other people into their own thing, and have passion and knowledge for it. It made me smile in the middle of the night.
* I listened to the first installment of Daisy Johnson's ghost story series The Hotel on BBC Sounds. Well-written and scary. I don't know how I'll feel about the other episodes--I see that the next one involves a witch from long ago. For me, I find horror more effective when it's not set in "olden" times. M.R. James was even more stringent with the point--he felt horror had to be contemporary, or largely so. I also like Victorian and Edwardian horror. The horror-related works I write are contemporary. Or dateless.
* Expecting the Nets to implode. Kyrie Irving is the worst teammate in all of professional sports. Not a lot is worse than a narcissist who is also an idiot. James Harden is dreadfully out of shape. How does that happen that fast to that degree for a man in his early thirties playing a sport like basketball? Kevin Durant is passive and simply wants to go along to get along. He's a follower, anything but a leader. Wouldn't be surprised if Irving doesn't play again this year. He should just go away.
* As for the Bruins--I don't think the loss of Chara is a big deal and ditching Krug should be an improvement. He was a power play guy, and a liability five-on-five. You'll see breakdowns early on in the season--there will be this quasi-1980s vibe. Some 7-4 games. I don't think the Bruins are a Cup contender, but they'll need McAvoy to make a Victor Hedman-like leap with his game. I'm not sanguine.
* Walked three miles, did a few hill sprints. Nothing major. I need to get better at those.
* Saw an interesting online discussion about the most talented NHL forward--from an offensive standpoint--to never crack the top ten in scoring. The way to do this is to be a goal-first guy. My pick: Cam Neely.
* I think the Buccaneers are dangerous for the Saints this weekend, despite New Orleans having waxed them twice. The idea of "It's hard to beat a team three times in one year." That Brady is 31-11 all-time in the playoffs is one of those Gretzky-level stats where you go, "What the hell, man?" He's so much better than anyone who has ever played the position. I've talked about Mahomes, but Mahomes needs that level of play for another seventeen years. I'm not much into Brady from a personal standpoint. I think he's a surface guy in many ways. An appearance guy. In terms of off the field stuff. But as a player and competitor, I don't know who you put past him in football. Ever. I don't think the Bucs can get through this gauntlet, but imagine if they did? Brees, Rodgers, Mahomes? If Brady pulled that off, that would be far and away the greatest achievement of his career.
* It was either like today or yesterday in 1982 that Hank Aaron was inducted into the Hall of Fame, without 100% of the vote. Can you imagine not voting for Hank Aaron the first chance you had for the Hall of Fame? I think Aaron was better than Mays. He gave you as much greatness--or more--every single year, for more years. When I think of what a ballplayer is, the ultimate ballplayer, Aaron is the man who comes up first in my mind. You take away all of his home runs and he has more than 3000 hits.
* I'm not sure about this--I'd have to check--but I would wager that Jim Rice is the only player in baseball history to have 400 total bases in a season with an OPS under 1.000. To do that, you need to not walk much. To get to 400 total bases, it's obviously harder if you walk a lot. Which is why Ted Williams never did it. But if you walk a lot and you get to it--ala Babe Ruth in 1921--then that's messed up.
* Another reason I like Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar so much: I think he's the character I like most in any kind of art. I mean personally like the most. Him or Bark in William Sloane's To Walk the Night. A lot of writers who know nothing about life and have no talent automatically think that everyone in their stories needs to be odious. (Of course, they themselves are often odious, and are just doing a kind of autobiography they call fiction, because they have no imaginations, and lacking any self-awareness, they can't even see what they're doing or recognize themselves, though they can't honestly believe they've created anything inventive.) Having likable characters doesn't lessen themes, ideas, or truths. I can't take any mob movie seriously because it's just assholes and murderers and sociopaths. There's no growth, no decency. It's degenerates doing exactly what you'd expect, degenerately. The Sopranos is just a living cartoon of typically morbidly obese sociopaths. I'd rather watch Kleenex blow in the wind.
* Came up with a few nice op-ed ideas. One pertaining to James Whale's Frankenstein, the others the best of all Valentine's-related songs and what might be the best of the Peanuts specials.
* Bought some Peanuts socks which are super warm that I can wear at the desk and save on using the heat.
* The stair runs and hill sprints need to get better. I let myself off too easily and don't push enough. Must start making an effort to stretch every day. What I do now is just go, and I need more pliability.
* I'd like to write a book chapter tomorrow, work on Brackets, and continue proofing the essay collection, which I began the other day.
* This is Elmer Valo's 1957 Topps card. A fine, artful set, one of the most beautiful. The card is highly unusual, with Valo reaching into the bat rack and a TV camera positioned behind him.