* Somewhat panicked at the moment. Today is the day that work samples are due for the Guggenheim. They sent out an email on 12/2 with a link to create a password and upload your material, which you do via pdf. I knew the due date before the email was sent, and when I went to create a password today and get this taken care of, the fields just reload as blank, and I can't get in. I sent an email, but it was to a super general address, so this isn't good. Thought this would take about twenty seconds. I need to get this taken care of. Sent another email to a more specific email address.
* Problem solved. They were very helpful. This year, for my sophomore try, I went with Meatheads and Dark March. As I said in a text to my sister who was trying to help me figure out all of this, "I just read the very end of Dark March and couldn't help but say aloud, 'oh my God' and my voice broke and I cried. I have avoided that book for so long. The raw, beautiful power of the end of it. Kills me. Not the way publishing kills me. Kills me into living, if that makes sense. It's so fucked up these different things come from one human."
* I think that's kind of my "thin, wild mercury sound" quote for Dark March.
* Walked five miles, which isn't much, but I felt like a tub of shortening, and had to do something. The town crier of whom I have written was in the Common during the afternoon, which you don't see--he's gone each weekday by nine or so. Two people were painting his portrait, one on each side.
* Regarding the ends of prose works--everything must build to that very last word. It's like sticking a landing--you need to stick that last word so hard. Full-stop. The entire work must build to the ending of that final word. It's not just the word itself--it's the context, the tonal quality, the lead up, all of the motion that is then stilled. Stilled hard. Definitive end. Not the faintest trace of lingering movement. Think of the orchestral crescendo in "A Day in the Life," how that piano chord has to come in and stick the ending. The crescendo has to break. Dark March and Anglerfish both end that way. They build to that final word. The "drop the book" word as you think you can't feel more than you feel in that moment.
* Speaking of Dylan: Blonde on Blonde is one of my favorite vocal albums. By which I mean, one has favorite singers, and then perhaps an album of albums from them that one finds particularly euphonic from the vocal perspective. With Lennon, that album for me would be A Hard Day's Night. His voice changed a lot after that record. With Elvis, The Comeback Special. What you get with Dylan oftentimes is a quality of voice that lasts for only one album. Whose voice changes more? The Dylan of Highway 61 Revisited sounds nothing like the Dylan of Blonde on Blonde.
* Here is a chunky squirrel in the Nova Scotia Christmas tree in the Common.
* And these are some Christmas cuttings I got today at Trader Joe's.
* Someone told me today that they thought Meatheads was the best satire ever written, then went on to talk about how funny it was. I don't think they knew that satire and hilarity are not synonymous. I did know what they were saying, though. I wonder in these instances if I should say anything. I feel bad if I can be helpful and I choose not to be helpful--edifying, in this case--but I also don't want to be browbeating. I'm always thinking things like that. Trying to figure out the best way to be. Constantly evaluating. I know just about everyone is intimidated by me, so maybe I shouldn't say anything at all, but then it feels like you're doing someone a disservice in propitiating ignorance in any form. I find that as our culture devolves, people become more and more sensitive (not in the manner of a Keats or a Thoreau, where sensitivity is a strength and means of growing humanness), and they risk less. Risk less, grow less, and become unable to withstand more, and profit by more. The thing that ought not to cause self-doubt now rattles the entire framework of self-esteem. One more reason why mediocrity prevails right now, and mediocrity is what people want. Mediocrity is but an opiate.
*Curious to see how the Patriots fare tonight, though realistically speaking, I'll be asleep. I know someone who only seems to listen to me when they ask me football questions, which they do often, with great seriousness. This individual regularly tells me I should have my own sports show. I am aware of this, beyond frustrated that I do not already--I should have a few kinds of shows by now--so I don't really need to hear it repeated. They often bring up what I said about Cam Newton--that he can't play, and he wasn't even very good the year he won the MVP--and I think this person may be betting on the games. You know how you can feel when someone is listening to you and feel when they're not? This guy listens hard with the football stuff. I think I'm his Phil Steele, NFL-style. At the same time, this guy has absolutely no interest in college football. I honestly don't think he's ever watched a game.
* Here's an interesting thought. I was looking back through the box scores of the 2008 Patriots. That was the year Brady went down in the first game. They went 11-5 nonetheless, but didn't make the playoffs. Fluke. They were humming near the end, and I remember thinking they had a better chance to win the Super Bowl--I thought they would have, had they gotten in--than that 2007 team, which I never thought would win the Super Bowl. The most overrated team in 21st century sports. The 2004 Patriots would have pasted that one-dimensional 2007 team with their creaky old defense. I don't think these Patriots will squeak into the playoffs, but I give them a 35% chance. Win out they'll get in. I think they can win tonight, but you need quarterback play at some point. Can Newton give it to them? Comes down to that. He doesn't have to be consistently good. But he'll have to make some throws when it matters over what's the remaining quarter of the season. I don't think he can. Hope he can. The Chiefs are going to win the Super Bowl. And next year's Super Bowl. They're a historical team. If the Patriots got in and drew the Steelers--who may well be losing their second in a row this weekend--they'll beat the Steelers. That's not a good team. I don't believe in the Steelers for a second. No one will beat the Chiefs anyway. The Patriots have an advantage in this game in that they stayed out West. No fatigue that you usually get with the Thursday night game if you're the road squad. I don't think much of Goff. I can imagine the Patriots making the playoffs after a quarterback change. Belichick won't make it until the season is dead though if he doesn't. They're a team that can't come from behind right now. A score, sure, or 10 points, maybe. But if they fall behind 17-3, they're toast with Newton.
* Having said that about the Chiefs, I recall thinking it was inevitable that the 1985-86 Edmonton Oilers were going to win the Stanley Cup and there was no way they wouldn't. Like it was almost boring. Someone might wish to say, "they would have, if it weren't for Steve Smith," but I don't believe he was the reason the Oilers were knocked out that year by the Flames. The Flames carried the play in that series. Edmonton could have lost without the Smith own-goal. They also had plenty of time to tie the score.