Yesterday marked 1827 days, or 261 weeks, without a drink of alcohol. Shaved for the first time in a week. Saw a photo of someone from college and did not recognize them at all. Also saw a picture of ex-Maple Leafs goalie Felix Potvin--whose nickname was Felix the Cat--who played as recently as 2005 and is only fifty, and had no idea who he was. I don't want to have this Garfield the cat thing going on.
I use such sightings as motivation. My intention is to look as I did in college but in better shape. The guy driving the bus yesterday was born in 1998 and he looked older than I am. I was shocked when he said the year of his birth when in conversation with someone else. Excess weight ages you, big time. People give up early. One reason why I think they like the idea of being old. You don't try, you coast.
Someone phoned me the other day and was opining how so many people have drinking problems and just love to get drunk.
He described all of these women in his neighborhood who get trashed on wine. Like they can't wait for wine hour. There's a pool in his development, and it's drunk central he told me.
"No one likes their life. No one is happy."
I believe this is largely true. But they have comforts, security, stability--even if stability takes the form of nothing ever happening--and those comforts become the life and make it tolerable. I have none of that. What I am enduring is not tolerable. Hell's hell.
Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight, but first a thought about the gallant stand by the Islanders. I think they took that just about as far as they could. The better team won, but just by a goal in a 7 game series. I don't think the Canadiens have much of a chance in the Finals, but I'm pulling for them. If they win, and Carey Price is the Conn Smythe winner, that will make him a Hall of Fame goalie. That's what these cases come down to. It's good for hockey to have an Original Six Canadian team in the Finals.
Watched Basil Dearden's 1944 horror film, The Halfway House, with the always excellent Mervyn Johns (Bob Cratchit in 1951's Scrooge) and also found a downloadable version. The best horror does more than frighten. It may not principally frighten. It is actually better if it does not, but while also frightening more than anything else at the same time. It may even be witty, funny, or whimsical, as with Richard Middleton's "The Ghost Ship," which I have discussed on the air and should write a piece on one day. (Am actually somewhat surprised I've not done this yet.) The Halfway House is about a ghostly inn and all of these people with various problems come to it for a stay. Sharply scripted.
Over the weekend I began giving serious thought to creating a volume of ghost stories, and have been mulling the contents and also the title. Works to work with: "Pillow Drift," "Dead Thomas," "Post-Fletcher," "Jute," "Second Boy," "They Who Surround," "Rehearsal Visit," "August Autumn," "Skip Shack," among others. "Jute" has been earmarked for Longer on the Inside, but there are hundreds of stories with which to play around. I intend to have the greatest book of horror stories. I have mentioned the three ghost stories I'm doing now: "The Frontage Road," "Challenge Me," "Possession Day."
I listened to this August 4, 1949 version of Carl Stephenson's "Leiningen vs. the Ants," from Escape! I like this mounting. There are a couple with William Conrad, one for Suspense, another for Escape! I'm not a massive Conrad guy. I don't think that preferred deep-bass radio voice at the time has aged well.
Also listened to a nice sounding version--relatively speaking--of the "Northern Lights" episode of Quiet, Please, from January 30, 1949.
When Connie Mack was my age, he had forty-two seasons of managing ahead of him in his career.
Rafael Devers hits the ball hard--a lot. Not sure how many guys I've seen who hit the ball hard as consistently as he does. Garciaparra used to hit the ball hard often. Seemed like everything was on the screws. Devers is this way.
Mega-bizarre baseball stat that defies logic: in 1953, Ferris Fain hit .256 with an OBP of .405.
Adults are strange about sports. They’re games. Underline that word. Have been deep into the Bruins my entire life. And I am absolutely pulling for the Canadiens. A great story that’s good for the game, and if the goalie wins the Conn Smythe, he’ll make the Hall of Fame.
I saw a Twitter post from someone called BostonTony or something like that, who calls himself a sports writer and a hockey expert. BostonTony has 2000 Twitter followers. I have 150. BostonTony doesn't actually write for anyone. And, of course, I have written for everyone. He posted something about how if you're rooting for the Canadians (sic) in the Stanley Cup Finals, you are not a real Bruins fan. As if BostonTony were a seven-year-old dullard, but most seven-year-olds are smarter than this.
I would posit that you're not a hockey expert if you don't know that it's the Montreal Canadiens, and that Canadians are different. As I said yesterday in the "blank piece of paper" entry: people want morons. They don't want intelligence. BostonTony is a moron. Obviously. They don't want humor, they don't want insight, they don't want to be entertained. They want idiots.
Think about that. Isn't that insane? I do what I do, and a moron does what a moron does, and people want the moron. Some bro idiot in a basement, without a clue or a single intelligent thought in the whole of his life. But people prefer a moron, because they can always feel as smart as, or smarter than, the moron. That's what they want. They don't want anything else save for that feeling. That is the key to success right now in this world. Be a moron. Then obviously connections and everything, but what extends your brand and and platform, and helps immeasurably with the awards, the followers, etc., is being a moron. You need to be an utter moron.
Tomorrow on Downtown I'll do a Fourth of July special. First up, the Grateful Dead's "Uncle John's Band," which combines elements of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," but is deeper than both. The latter is cocktail hour fun, with a nice guitar lick, but the Dead song comes from the depths of America and Americana. I see people try to explain the lyrics, and they never have a clue. With the most basic stuff. For instance, the song mentions a buck dancer's choice. Why does no one know what this is? A buck dancer's choice was a kind of dance that was like lady's choice, but for the guys. So picture a barn dance in 1850 or whatever, and the fiddler calls out that the next number will be a buck's choice. That's fun. People would have been excited.
Will also talk about the Band's Moondog Matinee, their rock and roll covers album, which I think hits the Fourth of July spot, and Creature from the Black Lagoon as a perfect movie for the Fourth. I'll get into the debt that Jaws owes to it, a film that is now viewed as a Fourth of July touchstone. Steven Spielberg is not good at making movies. They are broad. They don't make statements and they don't take positions. A great horror film feels like it has a stance. The stance is abetted by quirks, personal touches, personality. Raiders of the Lost Ark means nothing to me. There's no emotional connection to be had with anything that occurs in the picture. The characters are stock. The plot is stock. The film is stock. Jaws is this way as well. It's fine. But it's broad. You can't sink yourself into it. It's slick. The exception for Spielberg is E.T., which was personal for him. He's not doing autobiography with that film, but he's working from a personal space, clearly. It resonates more, hits harder. It's a statement. It's a film that seems to say, "I need to exist."
I'll discuss which baseball player and team has had the most All-American season. For instance, on the player front, is that Roger Maris in 1961? Jackie Robinson in 1947? Babe Ruth in 1927? Ted Williams in 1946? Willie Stargell in 1979? Yaz in 1967? Mickey Mantle in 1956? For teams, is it the 1975 Reds? The 1959 White Sox? The 2013 Red Sox? The 1955 Dodgers? The 1934 Cardinals? The 1930 A's? With the teams, you have to factor in everything: the players they had, the vibe, the mojo, the identity, the ballpark, the history. For instance, I don't think you could have the 1987 Twins, because they played in what looked like a stadium inside of a mall. My choices: Ted Williams in 1946. Baseball at the time was bigger than the NFL is now. There's a scene in Macao from 1952, when way over in the Orient, a Chinese woman asks the William Bendix character if he likes the Yankees or the Giants to win the World Series. Baseball wasn't technically on pause for a few years, but it might as well have been with the war. Then the war is won, and these studs--like Williams--all come back and baseball boomed like never before. And we have Boston. You have the greatest hitter ever. He wins the MVP, the Sox win the Pennant, he was a war hero, would be again. It's strange: Williams has one of his best years, but doesn't lead the league in homers, RBI, or average. But he has two Triple Crown seasons and doesn't win the MVP in either. For the teams, it's the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers in my estimation. Melting pot team. Robinson is still there, and Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe. It's New York, it's Willie, Mickey, and the Duke. A rookie Sandy Koufax is on "dem Bums." The Yankees always took out the Dodgers, but this year, the Dodgers broke through and won the World Series. They had the All-American shortstop in the underrated Pee Wee Reese, and played at Ebbets Field. Also worth noting that the play of baseball was at a high in 1955. The game was integrated, you had some of the biggest stars to take the field, rivalries were intense.
As for Stargell: he won the NL MVP, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP as the leader of those "We Are Family" Pirates. The stats were not huge, but he was somewhat like Kirk Gibson in 1988 for the Dodgers.
Finally, I'll talk about Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," which he got the idea for here in Boston, at Fort Independence on Castle Island, when he was stationed there.
TCM ran forty hours or something of Hitchcock films over the weekend, and I'm increasingly finding him a problematic filmmaker, even with his best works. For instance, The Birds takes a long time to get going. The business with the loving birds, and the boat--it goes nowhere, adds nothing. You want to start fast. If you don't start fast, you want to start with a mood, a vibe that immerses the viewer--or reader--within the world of the story. The start of Rear Window--with the camera panning over various objects--gets credit as "pure cinema," setting up the story wordlessly, but that busted camera on the table feels a lot more like a prop than something the Stewart character would actually have out in the open, the racing photos don't give away as much as Hitchcock wants them to, and after all of that, you get talked to death with the conversation Stewart has on the phone with his editor, which is not particularly informative, witty, and it's just awkward, one guy wanting to get off the phone and the other slow-talking and trying some material it feels as if he's written. Then there is the end of Psycho, which was a huge error in judgment. The movie reaches its natural end, and then we have this guy lecturing us, condescending to us.