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Swing you sinners

Friday 5/1/20

I wrote a lengthy and illuminating, I think, entry here yesterday, but it has not gone up yet. Sometimes that happens. Things get a little out of sequence, but that is the nature of a journal, I'd say--especially a journal that's not in the physical format. I'll have more I want to add, so I'll put it aside. Which is different than if I'm writing an entry exposing corruption at a venue or with a publishing person--those can be in drafts for a while, because I add, I verify, I am as thorough as one could be. Plus, the corruption, the favor-trading, can go so deep--so much of this is interconnected, and you pull one string, and fifty other knots come undone--that you have to take your time. I have piles and piles of notes. I get it right. But in this case, I was writing about publicity and a problem I have in terms of what I am, which is not what anyone else is, and the expectations that are brought to bear on who I am and what I do. It will go up later, though, and I don't want to try and do a shorthand version here to set it up.


This morning--it's about half past seven--I signed off on edits--and had to do some edits, this time--on the latest Wall Street Journal op-ed, which will be in the paper on Tuesday. It's on sports. I have the next three op-ed ideas ready to go with them. I think one of them I can get assigned, and I hope at least one of the others because it's important to me. I want to do a piece on humor in fiction, how rare it is, what it can do, why we need it, in conjunction with the publication of Meatheads Say the Realest Things.


I began a Beatles essay yesterday, which is excerpted in the aforementioned journal entry. It's strong. Very strong. When I write fiction and on the Beatles, I feel like I am coming home. All writing is comfortable to me. I have total control. But there is a little bit of a different feeling at times for me with fiction and my Beatles stuff. The piece will be reworked--though maybe not that much--into a chapter in Same Band You've Always Known: An Alternative Musical History of the Beatles. Spoke to Da Capo about this last night. They are the press I want to do it with. As I said to the editor there, they are, to me, to music writing what Arkham House was to speculative fiction. The gold standard.


I'm still missing $1100 from checks that turned up light. I ran three miles yesterday and I guess that was better than the day before, maybe in part because I ran early rather than running at 3 without having eaten all day. My eating habits need to be better. I think I'll talk about this Beatles stuff pertaining to Let It Be--album and film--on Downtown on Tuesday. It's not hard for me, but I don't think that should make it seem like it's not hard--very hard--to go on a radio program, once a week, and find some subject that is different every time on which to dilate and be fascinating. I could literally do that every day, fill up a four-program, but the way this usually works is your the wine guy and you come on and recommend a wine, or your the Celtics beat guy, and you come on and discuss the stage of the team after a week's worth of games. I've been doing Downtown for a bunch of years now, and the way it works is usually between Friday and Monday--but generally before Monday--I PM Kimball and tell him what I'm thinking for that week. If something requires more prep work on his end--like he might want to see a season of a TV show or something (as was the case one time when we did Stranger Things)--then I make sure to allow for more time. If he hasn't seen the thing or heard it, that's not going to be a big deal, because he'll learn enough before we go on and I can do my thing which pastes over whatever anyway. But it's certainly unique, doing this, having someone come on to discuss something different every week. Discuss it authoritatively. i guess I'm putting this here in part because I don't want it to be overlooked in the future. That's a real body of work I've made just on his show. And I want that audio to always be around, to be in my storehouse of work. I'll have to find a way to do that later, beyond just having it up for now on his site, and here on my site. I'll need hard copies of sound files.


This morning I wrote a man whose blog I liked. I discovered it yesterday. People don't normally write things where I think, "ooooh, that's good," but this person did. The blog was about a lot of horror fiction--E.F. Benson, for instance--from someone who knew their stuff. I didn't agree with some of the Benson comments and conclusions, but I never care about agreeing or not agreeing with that kind of thing. I care that you're interesting and thoughtful. (I do care if you lie to me and lie to yourself about saying some godawful publishing system person--or Lydia Davis--is this genius writer, but that's different. That's about other things.) The person also had a post about comparing one person to another, and they said, well, we're not supposed to do that, especially now, but we should do it, because you better understand your strengths and weaknesses, and I thought, exactly! So I just sent him a note to say I appreciated his blog. I think he self-publishes some books. I like people who know stuff. Who know good things. When you're on Tinder, you will see everyone mention the American version of The Office and nothing else. And puns. And dog photos. And dad jokes. Simple simple simple. It's like their entire world is an inch in front of their face. I don't like people like that. I also don't believe that everyone loves puns and dad jokes. I have never known anyone who ever made a pun joke to me. But if you like Shelby Foote's Civil War writings, vintage cartoons, the Fall, whatever it may be--something you had to go looking for a little bit--I will be much more inclined to like you.


I have been listening to a lot of X Minus One still. More even than before. I am taken aback by the quality of much of it. Take, for example, this episode, "The Parade." It's funny, at first (note the Orson Welles joke), but then it's truly scary. The writing is great, the acting. And the sound effects. I've been thinking a bit more about my future sci-fi novel. It's going to have to wait a while, given what I must do first, but things have a way of happening very fast in my world, so that's all relative, I should say. X Minus One remade "The Parade," actually. I haven't heard that episode yet--I'm curious to contrast.



I saw a note on Facebook yesterday that Russell Orchards in Ipswich will be opening soon. That place means a lot to me. A lot of pain--used to go there all the time with Molly--but I love the spot so much, and it was one of those places I somehow managed to walk to, which is detailed in "A Carrot for Dennis," a piece in the current issue of New Haven Review that is in Glue God: Essays (and Tips) for Repairing a Broken Self. It's crazy some of the things I've done to keep going and stay alive. Who takes a train up to to the sticks in a north, gets off that train, and then walks twenty miles across multiple towns to get to a farm? The fight I've had. So many things like that. That's a good book, Glue God. It would help people, too, and not in that stupid self-help way, and it's also literature. I've known the broken self. I had to find a way to put myself together again, and it wasn't any of this shit I ever read about, this jejune shit. It's nothing you're going to get from a shared Facebook meme or a filter or a cliche. I lived it. I learned it. I did it. And I wrote about it. Of course, they won't let it come out right now, ditto Cheer Pack, the story collection with the stories from the VQR, Glimmer Train, Harper's. But I will find a way through. What powerful books those two works are, though. So different from each other. You buy both at once, you ask me if I have a novel, I show you some pages from the now 60,000 word-long The Freeze Tag Sessions, we do a three-book deal, and we roll. And as we roll and that comes out, I do my thing, which none of your other authors are doing, I publish everything, I build, and something is eventually going to give and I am going to explode, and you, the press, have all of those books from me, you have me signed up, and you know I always have more (hell, I just wrote 105 new short stories).


Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS was on again last night. I admire that Red Sox team. That was as dead in the water as a team gets in a long series. And it's not like they finally rolled to a victory to stave off elimination. They were always behind, always grinding, always fighting so hard to remain alive. Especially in Games 4 and 5. That team had the team-version of true character.


Saw that the Boston Symphony Orchestra had released their 2020-21 concert program. There's some excellent stuff in there. I wonder what the ticket policy will be, if they guarantee refunds if everything is still cancelled? I had a ticket to a performance of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique this spring, but there were no refunds, which I guess is understandable? This year, of course, is Beethoven's 250th--I have already been planning 2-3 pieces I intend to write--so there will be a lot of Beethoven. Paul Lewis is coming back--he's my favorite current classical pianist--and I also want to attend Stravinsky's Rite, Prokofiev's Autumnal Sketch, and Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, among others. I've been downloading a bunch of Metallica stuff. Here's a fine gig from Middletown, NY in 1984, after the band was robbed in Boston and had to use Anthrax's gear. Today is Little Walter's 90th birthday. One of my favorite musicians. Greatest harmonica player to ever live. I like the harmonica quite a bit. Like it on early Beatles recordings, love Keith Relf of the Yardbirds as a player, really dig how Dylan played it on the 1966 tour recordings.



Was listening to this, an episode of X Minus One called "How-2." I think it's my favorite episode. Genuinely hilarious. Reminds me of Richard Middleton's "The Ghost Ship." I'd like to write on Middleton--he suffered from extreme depression and poisoned himself with chloroform in 1911 before Christmas. He was only twenty-nine. But he could be very funny. While dealing in the uncanny.



Over the weekend I'll work on a lot of different pieces and books, including these three new stories, "Green Glass Door," "Rain Dried," and the deer one whose title I don't want to say yet. They are towering works. I know they are. I have three towering works in my hand right now with "Fitty," "Six Feet Away," "Skip Shack." That's not to denigrate anything else. I have a lot of things I need to revisit, look at again, see where we stand. But I know those three completed works are masterpieces with length, and these three others are about to join them. These are significant pieces. Three in hand, three coming. They are as good as I have ever been.