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Sippin' at bells

Tuesday 1/1/19

954 days without a drink. Ran three miles each of the last four days. The Monument being closed on account of the government shutdown is frustrating, as surely my legs have backslid, and my lung performance as well. I'll have to build them/it up all over again, when the Monument reopens.


I picked up work writing about Keats for The Washington Post, a neglected John Williams novel about a suicidal writer for the TLS, and the Beatles for The Daily Beast. There will be a Rolling Stone piece out soon as well. I feel I'm looking well--thin--so I allowed myself a trip today to Mike's Pastry, which I've been inside of all of maybe five times. I acquired two eclairs. If something good happens, I'll have one as a treat. I watched a portion of the Bruins v. Blackhawks in the Winter Classic at Zuma's, a Mexican dive in Faneuil Hall. Saw Pastrnak's tying goal. I did not realize how much size he possessed, but he's a big boy. From there I dashed off across the river, to Sanders Theatre at Havard, for the second time in four days. The other day I was there for the Revels, the very last performance. I missed the prior two times I was supposed to go, but they kindly set aside a ticket for me.


I have done more work in my head, of course. Soon I will be formally composing the short stories "Dunedin," "Done Eden," "First Eye," "The Five Basic Food Groups," and finishing "The Indigo Arms." I always have these lists, the stories always get finished, sometimes in the order I think, but other times two, three, four stories happen before I write the stories I know I am going to write. That is exactly what happened this past fall with "Jesus H. Christ," "Qui Qui Ri Qui," and "Pillow Drift."


Today's performance featured Vivaldi's Concerto in B minor for four violins, which struck me as quite similar to the guitar battle on the Beatles' "The End" from Abbey Road. Telemann's Concerto in G Major for Four Violins without Bass--meaning, it was just four violins--was impressively rounded, commodious, spacious. This was an older crowd than I anticipated--I'd say that more than 80% of the people in attendance were over seventy. Why? It was for a 3 PM concert on a holiday. This crowd was every bit as old as the crowd you see at the BSO for their 1:30 matinees. Are people younger too hung over to do anything the day after New Year's Eve? Anyway, it was me and this woman in her seventies alone in our row. She turns to me and asks, "Are you here unaccompanied?" And I thought, O dear, it is has come to this. I am to be the inamarato of the elderly. I said I was, to which she remarked that as I was cultured and handsome, I would be perfect for her granddaughter, prompting my reply of, "Swingtastic. Make this happen, grandma, if I may call you grandma." She was okay with that. "She likes funny!" On my way out after, an elderly man gently took my arm as we neared the door, and said, "I'm for Liverpool meself," give a light tug on my Manchester City scarf. Nice man. I seem to be quite in with the elderly. I am not sure what this means.


On 12/30, I saw my sister and mother, who were in town for a wedding. After Kara flew out to join up with her husband and kids in Florida for the holiday, I went with my mom back to the Admiral and the Captain's, where I had been Christmas Eve. We hung out and watched the Patriots game. From there it was off to Boston Ballet, just me, with my mother en route to the airport and Chicago, for the last performance of the season of The Nutcracker. I had to keep climbing higher and higher at the Opera House, from seat to seat--lots of empty ones in the balcony--to get away from the noise of everyone around me. I get that they want to make money off of concessions, but it seems impossible for some people to go to a performance and not stuff their faces the entire time, while making more noise than you'd think would be possible with wrappers and plastic bags. Also, I sent a strong pitch regarding the ballet off today for work, plus one on Winnie-the-Pooh.


But speaking of bears: as this was the last performance for the year, the Nutcracker bear had on a Red Sox hat the first time we saw him! Yes? Very nice. This touch was one-upped when Herr Drosselmeyer produced the World Series trophy, which was worked into Act I as a toy.


All things being equal, if something has an extended run, go to the last performance if you can. Chances are that company will never be assembled in exactly the same form again. It means something to these people, after all of their hard work, that last performance. I watched the corner of the stage during the last number of the Revels, the singing of the Sussex Mummer's Carol, with that descant that I love, and the ushers and ticket takers were standing together, some with their arms around their co-workers. A few were crying.


Yesterday I was at Trinity Church for Handel and Haydn's Jubilee Day Concert. which commemorates the anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. I was also at the Harvard Art Museums, and watched the first season of Cuckoo on the Netflix, which was quite bad. I only watched it because Mr. Gilbert from The Inbetweeners was in it, and I think that show is excellent, but this was not, and starting the second season I realized that that was actually much worse still. I have some cool photos from most of this, but I am in some haste and I must eat something and settle in for a lot of hard work. I have read half of Hugh Walpole's The Killer and the Slain in the past few days. It's good. He's a strong writer. I read his ghost stories last year; all were effective save one. Though I'm curious to see how he handles the second half of this novel, as he's written himself into a situation where it would be easy to have it peter out into cliche. And this was the first album I listened to of 2019, Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin'. Seemed apropos.