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Believing you can

Monday 12/6/21

I wrote a 1600 word op-ed on Buck O'Neil, race, and merit this morning. There are very few places that could consider an op-ed that long, and really only one I can send it to--which I did--so that was probably done in vain and I'll have to stick it up on here. Obviously not good because I don't pay me. But I didn't spend much more than twenty minutes on it. The piece itself is very good. It's counter to what everyone else is saying about Buck O'Neil and the Hall of Fame.


I also sent an idea to MLB.com about something else, pertaining to what I call "quiet" great years; remarkable seasons that are not seen as such in real time, but which look differently later, in context and with a deeper understanding of the numbers and what the player's season really entailed and achieved. Minnie Minoso's 1954 campaign is one example.


Randall Cunningham was an NFL MVP runner-up three times. Surprising. Don Majkowski was an MVP runner-up once. More surprising, perhaps. Dan Marino finished third in MVP voting in his rookie year of 1983, though he only started nine games.


I saw a Boston sports radio person tweet today that Mac Jones is better than Patrick Mahomes. Eh. Anything for attention, right? Obviously this is not true, but Mahomes' poor mechanics are beginning to catch up to him. Here's an interesting question: Is Mahomes already a Hall of Famer? I think it's pretty close right now.


Meatheads love having loud conversations in hallways. If a meathead is in a hallway, it's seemingly impossible for them not to talk loudly to the person with whom they are with. This is all the more true on stairs. I believe that the meathead in these situations actually slows down their walking or climbing rate, so that they can draw the talking out longer. They will often even stop and talk in place. The meathead likes the idea of pontificating and being heard, and I think the echo effect of hallways--as well as the proximity to other people in their homes who can potentially hear--enthralls the meathead. Plus, the meathead, especially when with another meathead, views each of his words as essential; thus, it necessary to speak up all the more while on the move, especially when people are not side by side, but rather back to front. The meathead does not want one of his precious words to be missed. For there is no telling what might happen then! The meathead, one must realize, thinks he is sage. No one quite gets things like he does--not in the "real" way. People get things in the talked about ways, let us say. The meathead has what used to be called the skinny, or the straight dope. Actually, the meathead believes he has much in common with Yoda. You think Yoda would mumble to Luke in a hallway if he had to tell him something? Of course not.


Today I saw a meathead who gets paid millions of dollars say, "If Brady is the GOAT, then Belichick is the shepherd."


Jesus Christ.


A goat could correct you on this subject, "Hey, brother, we're not the ones that work with the shepherds. But if you have some extra clothes, happy to eat those for you."


A buddy of mine who is a professor posted something on social media about teaching his students what the word "catholic"--with a lowercase c--means. That reminded me of a time when I said something about catholic tastes in an email to an editor. She was quite stupid, and only hooking up the people you'd expect to be hooked up. Dripped attitude as well--you could have wrung it out of her like muck water. All of the fiction she ran was from system people who were her friends. I was trying to go along to get along by saying whatever I had to say to have a remote chance to even have my work--which pissed all over what she ran--looked at. Because the mind is made up before I even get there. I didn't used to do anything. Now, when the evidence has mounted and undeniable, I put you up on here. Anyway, I tried to give her some compliment, like "you, with your catholic tastes, might like the attached story"--something like that. And she starts screaming at me in email about how I had no right to presume religion, she was an atheist, etc. The only thing worse than a sociopath is a stupid, entitled sociopath.


I had a nice conversation with the plumber about books. He's a smart guy and I like and respect him. We've had a number of such exchanges over the years. He's like a detective, the plumber. Plumbing and writing have real things in common, I think.


Pete Townshend of the Who is preparing a deluxe edition of Who's Next for next year. I think he gets too in love with his own writing and his demos. We get it, sir--you put out your demos. That's fine. They fill up so much space on these reissues, though, to the exclusion of amazing live material. Why the Who release so little from their in-concert archives baffles me. For instance, they have soundboard tapes of shows from San Francisco in 1971--in other words, a tour in support of Who's Next--that is some of the finest rock and roll ever recorded. They could put that out and right away you have this key all-timer of a document. I hope it's on this package, but I'm not sanguine.


A library asked me about doing a talk on my Sam Cooke book. There's a little bit of money, so I'll do that. A buddy of mine did one of these talks, and I watched his.


I've done nothing lately, from my point of view. I've been useless. I'll get it back, but I really have been shameful. I haven't ran the stairs. Someone asked me yesterday what I'd been up to, and I told them I had done nothing and was useless. They asked me what doing nothing looked like for me. I told them that I spent a lot of the weekend sitting in the bathroom and crying. These evil people own my life. I don't think someone can imagine what that's like. Or, I should say, I don't think someone can imagine what that's like if they were like I am and doing what I do. I did other things, I guess. I came up with a couple op-ed ideas. I wrote Kimball about what we could discuss on the radio this week. I wrote in this journal. I worked on the novel EU in my head, letting it come to me. I sent an op-ed to someone about It's a Wonderful Life. I read a Jerome K. Jerome story. I came up with some jazz feature ideas for next year for a long piece in the 3000 word range, and organized my list of idea for shorter jazz pieces that would be about half of that. I spoke with a marketing person at Liverpool University Press about this promo code they have that allows people to get Scrooge at half price through the end of the year, but which isn't working right now outside of England, to see if they can make the discount available in the States. Worked on a bit on a proposal for a book about genre. I sent "Fitty" to a journal where I am loathed/banned via an email to a sexist academic with a typically pretentious/absurd name who fits every single professor cliche there is. She's going to do what she's going to do (and already is), which is fine (at this point, at a place like this, which no one sees anyway, and which pays you next to nothing, it's more valuable for me to take things here; that helps me out more; but I still offer the amazing work; I leave the direction up to you, and it's generous of me to offer a story that good for that price and that limited visibility, and I do so, as always, time and again, with a gracious note, that is always friendly, always polite, always professional; to people who have treated me like shit for years; until we reach that point when I finally say, fuck this, enough and I have you bang to rights in terms of what you've been up to), as I've already written the blog entry on this place and I'll just fill in the new stuff, and I'll also send it to the department chair, the dean, and various members of the faculty at this institution, because, of course, what is happening is not defensible, and third parties--even at the same place--always know that. Well, the people doing it also know it; what they do is predicated on no one ever finding out. That's exactly what the Chris Beha codswallop at Harper's was. He knows. Katie Ryder knows. Matt Sherrill knows. They all know. Their issue is that I know as well. It's like, "we hate you even more than we already did with the things you can do and have achieved because you also know that we so obviously and not cleverly lied to you and we are 100% guilty, which we also don't want you to know, and you called us on it." Among many other things. That's how this is able to continue: via silence. I'm not going to help that along.


I downloaded some rare Jerry Lee Lewis material--a gig from 1961, some BBC sessions from 1964. I found a Saturday Club session from Carl Perkins in 1964, too. I came up with a bunch of baseball ideas I probably won't get to use. I watched some of Black Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story, and read more of Sparky Lyle's book, with an eye to how it pertains to a book I want to do later on about the psychology of comebacks in sports and how that psychology can be applied to real life. What I'll do is breakdown the epic comebacks, so you'll get all of this sports and history stuff, but with that tied in to the practical application of life away from sports. I don't think anyone is better qualified to write on this, because I know that history intimately, and my entire life, really, is an epic comeback attempt. The other team has been spotted 80 points, and I'm allowed one guy on the field to the others team's eleven, and all of the refs are in the bag against me. 28-3? My entire existence is managed like being down 800-0 with a half to go, the refs on the take, and 1-against-11. And my feet have been stabbed with knives and my guts are hanging out one side of me and I've been starved for a week. I don't just know about comebacks--I know about how you manage a comeback. The techniques you have to use. The relationship with time you have to cultivate. The head spaces you need to be in. The outlook you must have. The ways to think about the divvying up of the extreme challenge. The ways you keep trying. The toeholds you create for yourself.


I watched some of the conference championship games--mostly Alabama vs. Georgia. No surprise there. Alabama is going to walk to another title. They'll destroy Cincinnati and then beat who? Michigan, I guess. I never believed much in Georgia. I watched some of Home Alone because I've never made it all the way through. My sister likes it and I figured I'd at least watch it because she has recommended it a few times, but I don't see the appeal. I don't think it's cute or funny or interesting or anything, really. And the kid is a pretty bad actor. He has to carry the picture? I find no point of connection with any of it. I guess the part at the beginning where the older kids are scaring him when they're up in the window about the neighbor is okay. But yeah, that's what me doing nothing on a weekend looks like. And the weeping which is actual/literal and me trying to tell myself that I can't give up, no matter how hard this is or how much I want to. How much I want to die and try my luck in another world where maybe it's like a best-on-best tournament and what matters is how good you are at what you do--or aren't--and nothing else. What stands out about Lyle's writing on the Yankees' comeback during that 1978 season is that they always believed--he's writing in real time--that they can do it. They don't necessarily believe that they will. Do you see that distinction? It's important. Thinking you can is what motivates the effort. It's what allows you to max out on the effort. It's that, not knowing that you will. You have to think that you can. That's everything. That's more important, paradoxically, than believing that you will. The first is what makes the second happen, anyway.


I came up with some new story ideas and a new idea for a book which I can propose tomorrow.


Saw tonight that an editor I dealt with died. He was always rude, always unprofessional, always condescending, always pretentious, always incompetent. He was a terrible person who was bad at his job and self-serving and unctuous with certain people he thought could give him things; a total publishing classist, snob, dick. It's funny to see his colleagues--in other words, people he hooked up--talk about him on Twitter like he was Christ himself. People never discuss what someone actually is--they discuss someone based upon what they've given them or done for them. Or if who that other person is makes that first person feel better about themselves by, say, also having no talent.


There was this one woman, and she was like, "I'm literally shaking. When blah blah hired me, I had never published anything, he put me on the map, I couldn't believe he gave me a high-paying job because I hadn't even started out," etc.


I know exactly why this guy hired this woman. Yes, I bet you're grateful for all of that money and the cushy gig from the guy who hired you for all the wrong reasons given that you have no ability and had no business getting that post. That must have been nice for you.


Tomorrow we get back to running stairs. I'll outlast these motherfuckers, too.