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Plus/minus

Wednesday 12/9/20

* Trying to sell an op-ed I wrote on Beethoven for 12/17, his 250th birthday. The piece is about the finest music Beethoven ever wrote, which may be the finest music anyone ever wrote. We talk about the Fifth and Ninth symphonies, because those are the ones lay people--non-classical music people--are apt to know, but the late string quartets are something else entirely, and hearing them--and coming to them now, I'd argue, in this age and time--is inescapably transformative, in a good way. The piece also talks about Meatheads briefly--though not by name--as those late string quartets play a key role in the novel. How is that possible, one might ask, when it's this funny book about an idiot jock? One would have to buy the book and find out.


* I wrote a short story today called "Orchard Apples," which was strong, haunting, powerful, and for Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. The story is about a dead girl in an apple orchard. After a fashion. It's also about a girl who lives across the street from the apple orchard, who now lives alone with her father, because her mother has left with the father of the boy who is--or was--her best friend. At a field trip at this apple orchard, he tells her to look at the situation in a way she's not going to. There is this legend among the kids that there was a girl who was left at this orchard and she couldn't find her way out. All of her focus and energy eventually went to that task of finding her way out, that she forgot about her parents, just as they had left her. We know at the start of the story that her father is fond of saying, "To whom much is given, much is asked," though we suspect that he said this in prior times, with the family intact. One will tend to be less noble sounding when there is only pain; it's far easier to trot out the magnamity and advice in happier times. She wants to give her father something, because he gave her so much before, and now he has to give her even more. So she looks at this as staying up late at night with him, to keep him company, and as they're on the couch evening, they can hear a woman--but just a woman--having sex on the other side of the wall in the next apartment. The girl doesn't know what it is, and the dad makes a joke. And when he passes out from all the beer he's drinking, she rounds up the bottles as part of this service of giving of hers, trying to get them all in one single trip so as to make the floor squeak less. Then she takes her keys and goes downstairs and outside to the apple orchard, looking at her building behind her to see if she can tell what it that the woman might be doing that's causing her to moan in her adjacent apartment. And she goes looking for the dead girl in the orchard. Whom she finds, in a way. The truth is that at this juncture, I could make Longer on the Inside I and Longer on the Inside II. There's that much material. A double album. Put out one, put out the other a couple years after. I need to sell this book and get some money for it.


* I've pretty much figured out the title for the book of longer stories--longer word count-wise--that I'll be making. The one that starts with "Fitty," ends with "Girls of the Nimbus." There's one last thing to consider. But I've been working on this title for most of a week.


* An interesting hockey stat: Defenseman Brad McCrimmon is tenth all time in plus/minus. Always liked his game, and wouldn't mind him in the Hall of Fame, a thought I've never seen anyone express. But consider: the nine players in front of him for plus/minus are all in the Hall. And then the next eleven after him. Four of the top fourteen are off of those Canadiens dynasty teams.


* Started watching Mank. Who is this for? I can't see what the audience would possibly be for this film. Classic film buffs who like period details and nods? Okay. But a lot of times, those same people aren't into Citizen Kane. I think people who haven't seen Kane might see this because of Fincher and given that they watched The Social Network or whatever--which was a load of nothing--and then conclude that Kane is boring. And it's not. There's loads of energy in Kane. It's fiercely dramatic. You just have to watch it and not be scared away by its intellectual reputation. The Mank script is tin-eared. It's not a well-written movie at all. You can get that with nepotism. But most films are poorly written. We are in an age when hardly anyone is good at anything, and that matters fuck all. Because the least that anything is about--let alone success, recognition, size of audience--is talent.


* Disappointing response to the Lennon op-ed, at least insofar as what makes it back to me. The numbers I see, I mean. On here. On my FB author page. On Twitter. Someone today said to me to not look at it that way, to look at it as some money, and to keep going and creating. "Your purpose here is far greater than an op-ed in the WSJ." I try to tell myself that, too, with each thing that comes out, but it's always the same. And nothing changes save to worsen. I have an industry that has me by the balls right now, and owns my life and everything in it, with the blackballing. And then you have a world at large that could not give a toss because the world at large does not read, because this industry killed off reading. And I don't know how to solve these problems yet. It's not about what I write. You can't write anything better than any of these works, of which there are now thousands. You're not going to write a better book than Meatheads, a better short story than "Girls of the Nimbus," but none of that matters, because that has nothing to do with what this is about, save that work of that nature--or, rather, being someone who can produce work of that nature--makes most of the people of this industry wish you dead. But this was good advice all the same from this person, though sometimes I worry that people are just trying to get me not to kill myself so they won't have to deal with what that is like. These are dark times.