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Odds and ends of late morning

Thursday 7/2/20

Deep in the JazzTimes cover story. Absolutely ripping it. Time for a run. Will finish it post-workout.


Here is the Downtown radio segment from Tuesday, in which the business with Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post comes up. Rich, who saw the email correspondence, says just how shocked he is that someone like that gets a job like that at a place like that. Shocked over the incompetence, the lack of professionalism, the vapidity. I'm not shocked, because this is pretty much what I see, throughout each day, every day. What we mostly talk about in this episode is writing, and what has been a historically unique run.


Looked at this Gettysburg Review story, Their editor, Mark Drew, hates me. Awful fiction here. Follows the recipe. Look at what a slog this is, look how boring it is. But you see the hallmarks right from the first two sentences. The subject-verb opening sentence, with that stock MFA rhythm. Da dunt da dunt da dunt. You see it again and again. They wear you out with that rote rhythm. Then in the second sentence, you get stock, pointless description. These people love stock, pointless description. They think it's writerly. It was one of the first things, in fact, that they ever thought was writerly. There is no service to the story. You are already bored. You're not being moved forward, you are given no reason to care, and you must give readers a reason to care right from the first sentence. The first clause. But this is how they teach you to write, and there is no one who wants to read this. Also, if you dedicate your individual to story to someone, in some literary journal, that tells me how pretentious, non-grounded, and out of touch you are. This is just so lifeless. It's homework reading. A draining chore. Great writing should energize you. Not suck energy from you when you try to get through it.


I see that this accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein was arrested by the FBI in New Hampshire this morning. If the words "heiress" and "socialite" feature in front of your name, there is almost no chance--perhaps zero chance--that you are a decent person.


I talked to Ryan at the Songs of Note podcast, because it seemed to me that if we were doing Beatles month, we shouldn't wait until 2/7 to start. You start this kind of thing early. My bad for not thinking of this sooner. So I told him that if he could get up the first episode--on "There's a Place"--post-haste, I had an idea for a fifth episode, for the end of July. He agreed, and you should see that soon.


Next week on Downtown there will be a summer theme, which will cover two Peanuts summer specials, which people tend not to know, one of them being the second prime time special in the animated Peanuts run, occurring after A Charlie Brown Christmas and a few months before It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. This one has the original voice cast, which is crucial, because the Peanuts specials got pretty rubbish when those actors moved on. The second special has some of the original voice cast. We'll also talk about summer loves. For instance, I love catchers, and I tried to be one as a kid, lots of front and backyard games pretending I was Carlton Fisk, despite being left-handed. We'll also talk about The Man with the Gun, a 1955 Robert Mitchum film which is new to the Criterion Channel. I also came up with two strong new op-ed ideas. And gave a shout out on Twitter for this excellent podcast about the ghost stories of M.R. James and ghost stories related to him. The two hosts are smart, they're funny, convivial, they know their stuff, they obviously like each other a lot, they're articulate, they have great chemistry, it feels like you're hanging out with them, the production values are top-drawer, they clearly put a lot of time and energy into this venture, and I think it's absolutely fantastic. They've made me think more about when I have my own podcast(s) later.