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Summarizing a couple days and moving forward

Monday 11/15/21

Kipling wrote that rare is the person who can move forward in the same manner whether they have won or lost. I’ve found that doing so makes it all the more likely one will prevail in the ways that count the most. The longer battles of life. And the tilts of higher stakes.


The weather of the weekend was quintessential autumn. Wind, leaves hanging on, but knowing their time to be part of a tree draws short; one still sweats profusely with the vigorous outdoor workout, but becomes cold sitting too long after. Colors are muted. Stairs feel good.


Here is a shot from yesterday morning in the Paul Revere Mall, with Old North Church:



Been away from here for a couple of days, but doing much. I should recount some of it, as I do new things. I thought it was pretty interesting when I looked at the time on Saturday morning and saw that it was 11:57. Technically still morning, and I reflected on what I had done that morning. I watched two Robert Mitchum films in The Red Pony and Rachel and the Stranger. Came up with an wrote an entire new short story, an all-timer, called "Ready to Go," which I'm about to jump back into in a moment. It's a special one. Perfect. You hit the idea, you hit the groove, you hit the shape, you hit the voice, you hit the various planes at once, and you can absolutely wreck a reader. It will go into Longer on the Inside.


I also ran 5000 stairs on Saturday morning as well. Listened to the first show that the Grateful Dead gave on their European tour in 1972 at Wembley. I went to Haymarket and got peppers, bananas, and strawberries for my heart, and also tomatoes, all for $10.


As for the rest of the weekend: I ran another 5000 stairs yesterday. Watched the Bruins against the Canadiens last night, and the Patriots thumping of the Browns in the afternoon. Listened to five episodes of M.R. James adaptations narrated by Mark Gatiss up on BBC Sounds, as well as a couple episodes of this podcast called Uncanny, which is about explorations into first hand accounts--for what they are worth--about the supernatural, UFOs, odd events, and also a Thanksgiving-themed episode of Suspense--which aired in March, strangely--based upon a Ray Bradbury story, which I'll discuss tomorrow on the radio along with the Beatles' "Cry Baby Cry," Arthur Machen's thoughts on writing fiction, Orson Welles reciting John Donne--one of the two best spoken word recordings of which I am aware--and a Green Day BBC session from 1994. The March air date wasn't that strange, or at least not unusual for radio in that era. There's a Lux Radio Theatre version of It's a Wonderful Life from March 1947 with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed reprising their roles.


Regarding those aforesaid firsthand accounts: I notice that they often come from people who suffer panic attacks and from anxiety, who will later develop drinking problems, but I tend to have a sense that they didn't just start drinking in excess after the experience, as a result of fear or trauma, but that they were drinking in excess previously. These things--anxiety and drink--are often present is what I am saying. M.R. James asked himself a question in one of his informal writings--that is, it wasn't a story, and it was one of those short, conversational pieces he did--if he believed in ghosts. James was a no nonsense scholarly man. Well, no nonsense thinking-wise. He liked to "rough house" and grab other men by the genitals in "play." But he wasn't a flight of fancy type of guy, and he essentially said, "sure, who knows, could be possible, I'd allow for that."


Listened to an interview from 1987 with Duane Jones from seven months before his death about Night of the Living Dead. An articulate, thoughtful man, but one who took himself too seriously. He spoke about the film in connection with the Shirelles and the Chantels, which I found interesting, and told this story about how a crew member killed this beautiful moth on the set that everyone had been admiring, which upset people quite a bit. You have such a violent, dark film, and it sounds like the most upsetting moment on the set--for the actors--was this needless smashing of a simple creature. He also gave an account of getting driven home through rural Pennsylvania and being followed by some menacing white people he thought wanted to do him bodily harm because he was Black, which may have been true.


I've found--this is what can make it hard to know--that a lot of people do things that are awful that they just do. That is, if I was not white, someone could attribute the reason for these things being done because of that fact. But they have been done to me, a white person. I once had someone follow me on the road once with the goal of catching up with me and having a physical confrontation. Sometimes--often, I think--you don't know. Jones had a heart attack in his early fifties. He was a fit guy.


I listened to the Kinks' first album, Echo and the Bunnymen's Peel sessions, the last Strokes album. Was reading Sparky Lyle's The Bronx Zoo, a fine baseball book. Ted Williams played a big role in his career simply via a conversation they had one day, where Williams asked Lyle what the best pitch was. That's how Williams put it--the best pitch. Williams said that the answer was the slider, because even if he--Williams--had known it was coming, he still often couldn't handle it. Or often enough for Ted Williams. Lyle was okay up until that point--he was in the minors--and was a two-pitch pitcher, but he starts working and working on developing a slider, and then has this epiphany one night lying in bed, and goes outside to throw a ball against his building. The book takes the form of a diary, documenting the 1978 season, which was a strange one for Lyle. He'd won the Cy Young the year before as the Yankees' closer, but that off-season they signed Goose Gossage to take Lyle's job, in effect. You can't fault the move, I suppose--Gossage, a future Hall of Famer, was in his twenties, Lyle was moving into his mid-thirties. But that must have stung. Lyle was never the same again.


It's a funny book and a smart one, where the insight into baseball goes beyond sport and into life. For instance, when he wanted to learn the slider, no one would help him. The pitching coaches were old school. They wanted things done the way they had done things. A lot of guys used to be two pitch pitchers--fastball, curve. The way they taught a slider was to throw across you body and flick your wrist, which put strain on the arm. Lyle was working on a different technique, but he was told not to bother, because he'd just hurt himself. Now, realize, this pitch made Lyle's career. Made him one of the best relievers maybe in baseball history. He had a nice run in the 1970s. And here's what he said: "I always thought the 'you can hurt your arm throwing the slider' line was a bunch of bullshit. You can hurt your arm jacking off. If you learn to throw the pitch right, you're going to be all right." See? That's life stuff.


Yesterday marked 1960 days, or 280 weeks, without a drink of alcohol. Ran another 5000 stairs.


Some people are excited that Coltrane's A Love Supreme recently became the first jazz record from the 1960s to sell a million copies, but I find it depressing that it took 57 years. There are amazing works of art that will change your life. Experience them. They're right there.


That was from Twitter. People saw that and unfollowed. Again, we see it over and over; intelligence is hated, feared, envied. The more it is in evidence, the more hate, fear, envy are as well. That is the problem above all problems for me to solve.


I would like to write about how Washington Irving writes about Christmas. His seasonal voice is sublime.


Brad Marchand is not the best forward in the NHL, but he is the most complete. Elite as a playmaker, goal scorer, defensively, on the power play, and the penalty kill. I wrote in SI a number of years ago that I thought he could make the Hall of Fame. He’s surefire now.


Reached out to the publicist at Disney who is handling Get Back so that I can get an advance screener link.


During that 1972 European tour, some performances of "Not Fade Away," on the reprise, remind me of how the end of Handel's Messiah is sometimes handled these days, when, during the concluding "Amen" chorus, everyone who has sung before--the various soloists--are invited to sing with the choir.