Yesterday marked 1617 days, or 231 weeks, without a drink. I walked five miles, same as on Saturday, after a couple on Friday. Obviously not many miles. That needs to be better, fitness needs to be better. I cannot become a fat slug and I must keep my heart strong. To recap quickly last week's version of the Week Game, before detailing the start of this new one: I wrote three short stories ("Fireworks People," "How Much Sorry," "Meteor People," the first and last of which are to be the first and last works in Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives). I wrote three op-eds. No clue what, if anything, will happen with them. One was on baseball, another on Beethoven's late string quartets, another on stair running. The baseball one was about Stan Musial, for his centennial, which I offered to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Ringer, and MLB.com. Completely ignored. The piece made the case for his 1948 season as the best in MLB history, an argument I've never seen advanced anywhere, but what is preferred is a paint-by-numbers piece that recycles old quotes from ex-teammates from the archives of 1981, rather than anything fresh, new, compelling, and tied into right now. I wrote a piece on Ella Fitzgerald for JazzTimes. So that's seven full works in a week. A short story called "Post-Fletcher" was published in F(r)iction, I spoke about five different things on the radio, and this essay on Bob Dylan and his long songs came out in The Smart Set.
To begin this new week, I worked on Saturday on "Girls of the Nimbus," a major story that will have some length to it. The story was somewhere around 4000 words, with parts still to develop, so what happened was I began writing rather hard, which meant to add and subtract. Quite a bit of new writing, and the 4000-word-story-in-progress became a 2700-word-story-in-progress. That will likely be the most important day of composition for that story. I should finish it soon. Then yesterday I put together a big pitch/presentation for Longer on the Inside, and sent that out to a publisher. This morning I wrote two more new stories. On Saturday, as I cut from "Nimbus," I copy and pasted various sentences, clauses, paragraphs, into a Word doc, just in case I wanted to reinstate something. And today I thought, okay, you have this randomness, these discarded bits sitting in a document. Thus, challenge time: Can you build an entirely new story from the words? I knew I could--I can make a story from anything. Came out well, a work called "Dandelion Heads." Then I wrote another story about a young girl, who visits her grandfather--young grandfather--in Chatham. This whole of this guy's backyard is a cranberry bog, and there is something in this bog--a face in the water. I think it's a frightening story, a sad story, a hauntingly beautiful story, ultimately, and a wise story. It's called "In the Bog." Both of these can be used in Longer on the Inside. What I did with that book was I wrote works for it every week, knowing they were going in that book, or, put another way, were for that book. I was writing them, but what I was really do was composing the book. A while back I had more than enough material, but I told myself to keep composing, because it would simply be more to select from, and I'm operating under the premise of faith that all of this work, this huge body of work, will be seen and play a role in the world in my lifetime.
The Patriots are obviously done. They were realistically done well before yesterday's frustrating, but entirely predictable, loss. You need a quarterback who can make the one or two essential plays to win a game, and that's not Newton. It never was. As I wrote in these pages months ago, he wasn't even that good when he was supposed to be good. I watch him throw, and I see dreadful mechanics. No fluidity. His motion is not continuous, it's herky-jerky, and it has multiple parts to it. Watch him throw the ball into the feet of his receivers in the flat. A bigger problem is that as a football player, he's obtuse. He can't read a defense. He can't pick up an obvious blitz. He can't audible into a better play. He's a Daunte Culpepper type. You need mental acumen, smooth mechanics, accuracy, and composure to play that position at a high level that can make an 8-8 team an 11-5 team. Having said that, Belichick is largely to blame for going with this guy as the best QB option. The secondary, as I wrote here a while ago as well, is exceedingly overrated. And as I also wrote, it's time to move on from the McCourty brothers. They contribute nothing. And I don't want to hear that the Patriots are where they are in large part because of the opt-outs. Those guys were just as likely to get hurt anyway. Hightower always does. That's not what it is. They went in with a bad roster, which isn't a problem in and of itself if you have a top-five quarterback. Brady wins that Seahawks game, he wins against the Bills, he wins yesterday--and he might have won the Chiefs game. The mechanics and lack of a physical skill set is bad enough with Newton, but that he can't read a defense after ten years in the league and pick up a blitz--he is terrible at seeing the field--precludes him from being even a game manager. A game manager would have this team in the playoff race--they'd be 5-5 or 6-4. Belichick will do his legacy a great deal of harm--especially if Brady plays well--if he doesn't find another quarterback and win with him, and certainly if he brings Newton back. I'd move on from Newton now. You have to know he is not the guy, and if he gives you the best chance to win, that's by a negligible margin. He won't be on the roster next year. You'd like to think the other two won't be either, but you know what Hoyer is in terms of NFL regular season games. Play Stidham. If he is a spectacular failure, it doesn't matter, and you move on from all three. And I don't want to hear about Newton's completion percentage yesterday. He can't throw short. He can't throw long. That one pass was a fluke. He can throw intermediate crossers when he steps up in the pocket and he's eyeball to eyeball with a guy right in front of him.