Wrote a piece today on Nick Drake's "Black Eyed Dog," for that book I am doing that looks at underrated works of art--frankly, works of art most people have never heard of--that can change your life. Each entry takes the form of a 600-word write-up, or notes, or whatever one wishes to term it. I updated the list on here from a few weeks ago. No one else could write this book. It'd be impossible. You'd have to be an expert on far too many things that are quite diverse. What you want to do is make it so that the writing and the ideas is the real show, with art being discussed the secondary show. That way, someone can have no interest in, I don't know, ballet or sculpture or a great baseball book, and the writing provides their interest, their connection to the work, their entertainment, their enthusiasm. I also think I came up with the title, but I'll look that over a bit after it sits for a while. This book is in some ways the nonfiction cousin of Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. Why not package both at once? You put one out on year, the other out the next. I don't know what the conversion rate is, but one word for me is like 50,000 of them now, with what I'm doing, how I'm layering. What I'll do is write a handful more of these entries, and further show off the range of subjects--so far I have a film one, a painting one, a song one--and then I'll take it to someone as part of a pitch. My giant corpus of published works in the art arena should further testify to what I can do. Have done. Am. I intend to get out of forties with at least twenty books in print. Had I backing right now and some support, that number easily becomes forty books. A huge range of diverse books. Why not be in a multitude of markets at once? Anyway, the Drake entry is excellent--it took me about ten minutes to do. I'll write an introduction for this book, too, as with Longer on the Inside.
One of the more obnoxious trends I’ve noted of late in this age of rampant Vanity Smurf-ism is when you say something nice to someone—just a basic compliment—and they respond by going, “you’re welcome.” I can't imagine acting like that. The narcissism. Just an average, or sub-average--which takes some doing, given how low the bar is for humanity at the moment--person basking in themselves. Almost any time I compliment someone now I end up regretting it. And usually it's just something you say--not something you mean--to try and prompt someone to actually have something to say. Like you give them an opportunity to be less vapid. You think, well, maybe this person isn't utterly bereft of some depth, they just need some trigger for it to come across. And then it's like, nope, wrong again. And you just want to shut your mouth going forward. Right now this is a world that rewards simpletons, because they have no standards, they offer nothing, they require nothing, save a warm body and/or someone who is like them who will join up with them in whatever. The act of being a simpleton. Joint-simpletoning. You are provided for if you are an absolute basic idiot. If you're not, then it gets tricky. And the less you are, the trickier it gets. So the key is then to what? Devolve?
Cam Newton has COVID and is out for the Patriots game against the Chiefs. I looked at his numbers today--he's been pretty mediocre, and yet he's talked about like he's been amazing. Two TDs. Two interceptions. That's pretty poor after three games. Doesn't throw for much yardage. His thing is running, but he couldn't make a long yard on a play that would have won you a game. And now he's out, because he doesn't stay healthy, and yes, this counts. Brady is off to a slow start in Tampa, and even still he's out-performing Newton, with six TDs and three pics. Higher QB rating, too. But that's not how you read about it, is it? I wonder what that has to do with something. Patriots would have the same record right now with any of these three quarterbacks. As I said before, Newton is not the answer to anything. He's been fine. C+.
Bob Gibson died. The way he began his wind-up it looked like he was about to attack you. Advance. Throw hands. It’s the most intimidating delivery right from the very start. Of course, no pitcher would be allowed to have that motion today. His back leg went way back--well, way back to the first base side--which runs counter to how you're taught now. Guys used to have really cool deliveries.
Just saw that there are no playoff baseball games this weekend. That's dumb. How do you take the weekend off? The sport gets a little momentum with the postseason, and then you're gone for Saturday and Sunday?
I'm almost done with the first five seasons of Schitt's Creek. It gets better as the characters develop. The Christmas episode was good. Actually, it gets better when it's more serious. There can be touching moments, especially with the mother and the father. Not so much between themselves, but the way they interact with others.
Listened to the 1947 "The Young Man with Cream Torts" episode of Escape, which was adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson story of the same name about a suicide club. Paul Frees--who is in so many of those Rankin-Bass holiday specials (and the Beatles cartoon)--is excellent in it. The intros that William Conrad does for the episodes are hilarious. He lists things that you might want to escape with great specificity. "Want to escape from shopping for Christmas presents? Or replacing the air freshener in your car? Banging your lonely wife?" I'm really not exaggerating much. You never know what they'll be.
If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fabula, Fuckery, Hope, has been pushed back from January 2021 to July 2021 with Dzanc, which is fine, as it spaces out my books a bit better. There will be four books over the next year (or it could be five at present--I don't know; I'll have to figure that out), starting soon, and this creates some separation between a couple fiction titles. What matters now is getting more books sold. And staying at this until something finally gives and I can get past these people. Dzanc would be good for both Longer on the Inside and the nonfiction volume detailed above. I can mention the former to Graywolf, but their guiding criteria is that you must be a pretentious literary citizen of the right class and have the most boring work there is. Nothing out-bores a Graywolf book. They are the gold standard--well, tied--in publishing for boring you out of your mind. As my works are the antithesis of boring, that's less than ideal for them, but who knows. Who cares? I'll send it anyway. If it works--which it won't--it's just a means to an end, a pipeline to getting something out there. When they pass on something like Cheer Pack: Stories--which has the stories from Harper's, Glimmer Train, Commentary, the VQR, etc.--in it, they sniff, "this was highly engrossing, exceedingly immersive," and you can tell that they mean that as a pejorative. They want to be bored. They want to bore people. Sure, these places call it something else in their world of cod-intellectualism, but they want pretentious, boring ass work that sucks, bores, and matches other pretentious boring ass work that sucks and bores. That is their gospel: Suck, bore, match. And you have to be the right kind of person. Make no mistake about it. It's classism. If you're not from the right class, you have no chance. Nothing is real about these people, nothing is real about what they publish. I give them an opportunity to get on the right side of the ledger of realness and consequence. Of art, truth, beauty, entertainment, a uniquely human experience. Of work that is vital for the world right now, and work that will last. It's amazing how good Cheer Pack is, and the collection's fancy ass pedigree, which these people care about in every other instance, not that the fancy ass pedigree means jack shit. Well, it does here, because I am hated, and the obstacles I had to overcome to have work run in those venues is different than how it goes for other people who get in, where it is all about the cronyism, the classism, the safe, predictable, staid work that fits the pattern. The right agent. The right awards which are simply the product of system-based payola and machinations. The gilded name of another talentless writer. Etc. And I cannot give the thing away. The plight thus far of that book, from this artist, this writer, says so much about this industry.
When this Sam Cooke thing is all wrapped up with Bloomsbury, I am going to pitch a volume on Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped--which I have written about in these pages, and discussed on the radio--to Bloomsbury's people who head up the BFI Film Classics series. I was supposed to be writing a book on A Hard Day's Night in this series, then the series was sold to Bloomsbury, I attempted to see where I stood, and I was yelled at by one of the new series editors. Since then, neither of the two have written me back after I attempted to move forward, and supply new ideas that could work, and regarding which I have a rich publication history and proven expertise. I did nothing wrong, but this is how this so often works. Someone can just yell at you, decide, seemingly, to detest you, and then what? You give up? You try something else? And round and round it goes. One would think that with a Bloomsbury title out there, and this strong new idea of a film that is perfect for the series, they'd have to reply, but one would often be wrong. But we'll see. Me, all I ever want to do is move forward. That's all I am interested in. I don't have to like you, I don't need you to like me, and as far as I'm concerned, that's irrelevant. The work should be all that matters, and what that work can do. Everything in a murky or poisoned past goes entirely away for me when we get to the business of putting that book out there, or story, or piece, or whatever it is.
Started watching Slumber Party Massacre (1982) this AM on the Criterion Channel. Haven't seen it in a while. They don't waste much time getting you to that nudity, do you? It's sort of like an Abbott and Costello horror-comedy picture, though, in other ways. It's clever-ish.