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Luke Appling

Monday 9/27/21

Over the weekend I started reading William Sloane's To Walk the Night again for what is probably the fiftieth time because I've decided I'm just going to write the book about it. How it is unlike any other novel, defies classification, shows us what great writing does and can do, and how the novel, in every aspect, differs from the endless, unoriginal, flat, pointless, boring ass inconsequential predictable crap that is put out today by publishers, mags, lit mags, and is taught and espoused as the "right" way to write fiction by this subculture of broken freaks that pretends the same rote, Creative Writing 101 writing doesn't totally suck and looks after their own.


What is more boring, for example, than this Brian Evenson story published by his friend J.W. McCormack of The Baffler? Total cronyism job. How could you even read this? Who could get through this? 8000 words of tedium and pointlessness. It's like a dull ache in the ball sack for forty-five minutes. Sign me up for a ball sack ache!


Luke Appling's nickname was actually "Old Aches and Pains." But he was good at what he did.


Anyway, the To Walk the Night book won't be long; probably between 30,000 and 40,000 words, and I'll just do it as I do everything else. I located and acquired a hard-to-find collection of Sloane's transcribed lectures on what it means to write well. I went to the Boston College v. Missouri football game on Saturday, and read there, too, between plays and during the extended TV timeouts, since the game was on ESPN2.


I spoke to someone about doing this Billie Holiday book. They were interested and asked for an outline. I fleshed out my thinking, but it was not a formal outline, as I don't like to strictly storyboard things. But if they insist upon a formal outline, I'll do that. I will give them what they need.


On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I ran 3000 stairs each day. Not a lot, I know. Need to do better. Also mixed in a quick five mile walk on Friday. Yesterday AM I wrote a 2800 word story I need to fix, make over, which I'll do shortly. Possibly this morning. Yesterday also marked 1918 days, or 274 weeks, without a drink of alcohol.


I offered Cheer Pack to someone. I shouldn't be entertaining many of the things I have to entertain right now, or offering certain things to certain places, which isn't a disrespect thing, it's just not where my work belongs, but that's where it's at, with the blackballing. If you are anyone else, and you had this book, with these stories having appeared in the elite, elite places they did--one knows what I mean by "elite"; I don't actually mean elite, since all of the fiction I see is dreadful, and I don't think there's a single other writer in the world doing any fiction that will last--the book would go with a big press, simply by dint of the publication pedigree of those stories, even if those stories sucked ass. But I am blackballed by an entire industry, so I am going around to presses who publish books by people who have never published professionally, where it's like some older guy who has retired and trying his hands at writing books is his new hobby, and there we are, alongside each other, in this fucked up, twisted, ass backwards juxtaposition. The ultimate in "Gee, which of these authors does not belong with the others?" But that's just how it is right now. And I am trying to get out there as much as I can while it is like this, and keep going, keep creating, so that I will reap as no one has ever reaped, when it finally is not.


Over the weekend I also listened to the Dead's Skull Fuck album, the Pretty Things' first record, the Who at the Marquee Club in 1967, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, The "Chirping" Crickets, a couple episodes from the radio series The Sealed Book, and an episode of Hall of Fantasy. That Crickets album is an overlooked LP of straight-up guitar shredding. Buddy Holly lets rip. The Sealed Book ran from only March to September of 1945. It's a huge piece of horror cheese. Not very good, not subtle, certainly, but quite listenable. What's surprising to me--and probably me alone, in this world--is that the episodes were authored in large part by Robert Arthur, who'd go on to create the Three Investigators YA series. As I've discussed many times in these pages, I'm a huge admirer of those books, love them deeply, and they've informed my own writing in ways that I recently touched upon in a long essay. There's a big shift in quality from The Sealed Book to the Rocky Beach, CA world of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews--right, fellows?


Most mid-century horror radio programs really miscalculated how scary the organ is. I'd say an organ isn't actually that scary. But when a show wants to let you know that it's time for you to be frightened, someone lays hard on that organ. I always want to say, okay, relax, fucking settle down. Quiet, Please, was not like this, though it did use an organ--but not in that garish, press-your-forearms-to-the-keys way.


This other press is doing a book on J.S. Bach, a collection of essays, and they mentioned it to me, and I came up with a couple of ideas over the weekend, too, for a Bach piece. One pertains to Glenn Gould's 1981 Goldberg Variations, the other Bach/Art of Fugue, jazz, and hockey.


I pitched something about It's a Wonderful Life for Christmas, and how Donna Reed's Mary Bailey character is the real hero of the film. Reed was born 100 years ago. The film itself is turning seventy-five.


The Patriots’ season is over. After next week, they’ll be 0-3 at home. Teams starting 0-3 at home don’t make the playoffs. This may also be the end for Belichick in New England. I thought they had to win that first game against Miami to have a shot this year. I am too poor to bet on sporting events, and I'm not bettor anyway, but if I was to bet one game, it would be that Tampa-New England game next Sunday night. I think Brady would sooner sell his children than he would allow himself to lose that game.


If the Red Sox were playing any non-awful competition over the last week of the season, they'd play themselves right out of the playoffs. The Yankees owned that team's ass over the weekend. I think Dennis Eckersley is excellent at his job, and is the best analyst the Red Sox have ever had, but he has a major and mystifying blind spot when it comes to Nathan Eovaldi, I like Eovaldi, who is having his best year, by far, but his best year, by far, is like a C+. He's 10-9 with a 3.88 ERA, and Eckersley discusses him as a leading Cy Young candidate and one of the best pitchers in the league. Over and over and over again. It really undercuts his credibility. For the life of me I can't figure why he thinks this. Or why he says it. I am not a big Chris Sale guy--he's a woeful postseason pitcher. But if this team hangs on and makes the playoffs, I would make him my main guy. He would start that Wild Card game. He would be my absolute no-brainer number one. There is no way it would be Eovaldi.


I hate what the starting pitcher role has become. A maximum of 7 innings per week. What is the point? Just get rid of the starting pitcher role, then. Just have everyone be a reliever. This used to be like the coolest position in all of sports. The most potentially heroic. What is more boring and mediocre and uninspiring than a best case scenario of twice through the batting order--because no one is good enough to go through three times, apparently--and five innings and then the hook? Being a middle reliever is more exciting than that now. The starting pitcher is fast becoming the back-up catcher. The baseball analytics people have taken the human element out of the sport. The human element is why people watch sports. How can you be so obtuse not to get this and maybe stop from doing it so that your sport can succeed?


Stat madness: Josh Gibson won back-to-back Triple Crowns in 1936 and 1937. During the latter season, his OPS was a disturbing 1.474 and his OPS+ a just-about-unbelievable 273. It’s possible that no baseball player has ever been better. Then there is Gibson's 1943 Negro League season, which I am not even going to try and make sense of right now. Gibson must have been mind-boggling to see in person. And a catcher was doing this?


I posted the first three sentences of that on Twitter last night. I post things like that regularly. Fascinating stuff about sports, art, film, music, literature, nature, life. One person hit the like button for that, because, as I have said, the world hates expertise. It hates someone who knows fascinating things and delivers those things in a highly articulate way. That is not what anyone wants. People want to be bored by stupidity and predictability. Not because they like those things in and of themselves. That has nothing to do with it. Liking something has nothing to do with liking something, if you follow me. What do I mean by that? I mean that people "like" something, follow something, follow someone, buy something, subscribe to something, because it gives them comfort. That's all anyone wants. They want to feel like the thing, person, what have you, that they are looking at is saying back to them, "You're on my level, or you're even above my level." That's where people get their "self-esteem." People are fucking broken. Entertainment isn't entertainment. I give the example of Dylan. Someone goes into a bar, and there's this shitty, talentless dude in the corner playing guitar badly, singing stupid ass shit badly. That's who people want. Because you sit down at the bar, you think, "hmmm, feeling pretty good about myself listening to that guy. He's not more talented than I am. I could do that. I like listening to live music."


Conversely, and paradoxically, someone goes into a bar, and it's 1964 Bob Dylan, but without the fame, or without the fame yet, in the corner, and he's doing a run through of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," as easy as you please. Absolutely fucking no one wants that. That doesn't provide this kind of comfort, and this kind of comfort, in this society right now, is all most people want. This comfort is wanted 1000x more than anyone actually wants to be entertained, to feel anything, to be moved, inspired, to laugh. No. That kind of comfort is now everything. So Dylan is doing his thing, in this scenario, and his thing is obviously awesome, obviously what other people can't do, and sure as fuck no one is going to put a dime in the hat, and people are going to try and block it out, and leave. They're not going to sign up for the newsletter, buy a CD. They're leaving to go somewhere else, where there's someone in a corner who sucks.


As I've said, the single biggest piece of the pie. Bigger than being blackballed by an entire industry. That's actually a small problem, comparatively.


I may be doing another horror film book. Talking to someone about it. I'm thinking that will be on Welles's Macbeth, because I should be writing an Orson Welles book, and there's this real horror vein to his output, which is never discussed outside of War of the Worlds, which is discussed for other reasons. Other films in the running for me: The Uninvited, Curse of the Cat People, The Black Cat.


The beautiful, friendly woman at the Starbucks I gave the Sam book to favored me with another complimentary beverage. I will ask her next time I am there if she would like to take a stroll after work. Just to chat and get to know her. She seems like an interesting person. I believe she's twenty-three, African American, a college student. Didn't know who Cooke was. I would think that's pretty typical. Anyway, she's nice, I like her, will see if she wants to head down to the Public Garden or something, and if not, no biggie.


Just wrote the first 2000 words of a new short story, called "Earwax." Excellent. The voice and the realness explode from the page.


Time to run some stairs.