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The mastermind

Wednesday 12/8/21

Binge less, savor more. Revisit.

I wrote most of that book proposal, which would be for a short volume on F. Scott Fitzgerald, as part of a series. Fitzgerald is really the perfect person to do this book about, given how the series works. I haven't sent it yet.

Came up with a new story yesterday, and worked more on another as I ran stairs, and formally began a new story this morning after writing a 2700 word piece on Sam Cooke and Christmas. In mere steps I can have a new work. Or something major can happen in one I've been working on. Or I can have the tone, the voice, a direction. It will happen within two steps outside. I can look down at the bricks and see which ones I stood over as an entire new work just came to me.

There are no feelings that come close to feeling stories rip through me or having just finished a story I know is special. I think maybe later, when I am getting what I should get, when the work is being allowed to do what it can and will do, when I have beaten these people, that feeling will go into its own category.

Here's last night's Downtown segment, in which I discussed the most depressing Christmas radio episode ever, a radio adaptation of M.R. James's "Whistle and I'll Come To You" with Michael Hordern (Jacob Marley in Scrooge) from the BBC on December 24, 1963, Jerry Lee Lewis's cover of "White Christmas" the the BBC's Saturday Club in 1964, and the Grateful Dead covering Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run" in 1971. That line that starts the song about Rudolph being the mastermind is hilarious. "You know you're the mastermind." Such a weird thing to say to a reindeer! Masterminds are not cuddly. Some amusing remarks about that in the segment.

The Dragnet radio series will linger over sounds like no other. What I mean by that is when someone makes a phone call, for example, you'll hear the phone ring five times. The operator comes on to make the connection, and you hear all of the muted chatter on her end as she patches the call through. In one episode, a detective has a new raincoat that folds up and fits in a pouch. He's excited by this and takes the coat out of the pouch--which can fit in his pocket--for the first time, tries on the coat, and then attempts to get the coat back into the pouch. It doesn't fit--who can't identify with that?--but for like two minutes, you hear him trying to get it to go back in. The reason for the lingering over sound? Realism. If you don't stint in one area of details, you get payoff in other areas with details. Kafka understood this with "The Burrow."

For the first time since July, it’s now possible for me to take a hot shower. I live like Raskolnikov—minus the murdering.

It’s nuts that Brady is probably going to win the MVP at 44. If neither the Bucs or Brady fall off, it’ll be him.

Must have aroused Belichick to win a game in which his QB was 2 of 3 for 19 yards.

Field position in football is the equivalent of the count in baseball. Their shifts determine possible shifts in leverage. For both the offense and the defense, and the pitcher and the hitter.

The Cuomos are great people, huh? It's virtually impossible for a person not to be corrupted by power. That's human nature. It need not even be real power. Look at the people in publishing. Insane with their power, and what does it really mean? You're Ronald Spatz, you're a nothing who has done nothing in this life, who has added nothing to the human experience for anyone, who is the editor in chief of the Alaska Quarterly Review which sounds like an outlet that monitors the bear population of the state and where the salmon are spawning. What does that even mean? To anyone? Nothing. You've wasted your entire life doing nothing. This thing of no consequence. But in his mind, that's power. That he presides over this little world, which to him--because these people are not only delusional, but they need to be delusional; that's a key distinction--is this important world, on account that he can say, "We were cited as one of the best literary journals in the country by Publisher's Weekly and Joyce Carol Oates gave us a blurb." When you need to believe things like that matter, or indicate value--or any truth--or else you have to say to yourself that you're nothing, that you've wasted your time on this earth, you lose all hold on reality. You don't deal or live in the real world. Everything becomes a delusion, a lie, a forced ends. You become someone who can't even recognize the worst thing ever written for what it is, because everything is a forced something--it's never the reality. Do that often enough--and it doesn't take long--and any ability to cogitate and recognize falls by the side of the road, and the human husk just limps along, until death. That's a Ronald Spatz. As just one example. Like I said, the power need not even be real, or close to real. Only the very best kind of person can have power and either remain a good person, or, better yet, become a better one. People are too weak not to be corrupted by power or its illusion.

This is the Grateful Dead performing "Death Don't Have No Mercy" at the Fillmore West on Feb. 28, 1969. True enough statement, and yet the guitar--on the solo--pushes back against the inevitable, as if it is art that outlasts--out-inevitables, we might say--all.

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