Remember how Woody Guthrie painted This Machine Kills Fascists on his guitar? I liked that.
Wrote a story Monday morning called "Romance Master." I'll have to work on it.
About ten years ago, a college professor friend, talking about my work, said, "You push the envelope, sir, further than anyone else with your art." This story does so that much as I should think possible. It's beautiful. But I think a swath of people could be much offended by it, too. Then again, it's so beautiful, that they might end up feeling shocked that this thing they thought was the most offensive thing ever, wasn't actually offensive at all, because of the beauty and higher purpose. I didn't intend to write this. It simply came to me, so I set some words down, then it changed, I followed it some more, and that bit off most of the morning.
Tuesday morning I wrote a 1600 word story, which also just came to me. A few texts regarding it:
C: I wrote a story about a songwriting wizard and aliens who try to buy the world
C: It's called "White Wizard Summer"
C: I think I've gone too far
C: The first sentence is, "There was a wizard who wrote a song titled 'Ugly Girls Have Vaginas 2.'"
C: This story is unreal
I didn't go too far. Millions of people would love it. It'd be endlessly quoted. There is no work of satire and boundless imagination to surpass it. I feel like I am presiding over a whole universe of masterpieces right now. There is at least one new one every day. I look at these things, like There Is No Doubt, "Fitty," the Beatles books, the jazz book, the essay collections. That the same person writes "White Wizard Summer" and "Swoony and Moony," told by a woman in her mid-seventies. That the author of Meatheads Say the Realest Things is writing this novel The Year of Doing Nothing and Everything. How is that possible? How can one person create so much, inhabit so many characters, styles? The single hardest thing about my life right now is the knowledge that each of these works could and would be loved by millions of people in the world, people who would realize there had never been anything like this, or anyone like this, and there never will be again, but this industry won't let them see any of it.
Someone read the start of The Year of Doing Nothing and Everything, and told me that no novel had ever pulled them in like that. "I was there. I was in that house. In that town. In that life. And I had to know more." They asked me when I'd be done. I said I didn't know, but it wouldn't be hard, to which they replied, "You could tell me you'd be done tomorrow, and I wouldn't bat an eye. At this point, if I turned on the news, and saw video of you flying around Boston and shooting lasers out of your fingers, I would just be like, 'huh, there's Colin.' That wouldn't be as impressive as what you do every single day. And all of these people know what that is. But that's what we're talking now."
Yesterday I wrote another story. 1600 words. Description in texts:
C: I have written a story called "The Number One Cause of Death."
C: It's about a squirrel and a beaver at a rodent convention, a middle-aged guy who used to be called the Raw Dawg Legend, Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks during his retirement years, a mom and her kid at the grocery store, a woman who ghosts her new best friends, and God and Satan taking a sailing vacation together.
Meanwhile, here is yet another shitty publishing industry story, by Benjamin Markovits in n+1, called "The Conference"--doesn't that sound thrilling?--about, what do you fucking know, hey, some boring ass academic shit that no one in the world cares about. Here's the first sentence: "At lunch, Terry offered to drive him to the station; he had a few things to do in town anyway."
Holy fuck is that bad and bland. And the semi-colon is such a pretentious douche move right there. "Hey, look at my super boring opening sentence, but see how I used a semi-colon anyway?" "An annual conference on modernism..."
It's insane how pointless every last story is by these people. Who the fuck is this for? Who honestly wants to read that shit? Granta wants you to believe he's one of the best writers in the world. That guy. Come the fuck on. You lying fucking frauds.
Publishing can only get away with what publishing gets away with, because publishing has made it so that no one cares, and no one looks in on publishing, and no one reads, because why the hell would you? What is here that offers any value to your life? That's how publishing gets away with it--by making sure there's no interest in anything it has to offer.
Here is the "deep ending" of the riveting "The Conference." No one is worse at anything, than every last one of these people of this system is at writing.
“'I’m going to hang up now,” Gracie said. Then he was alone again, in the dark, watching the others in the light coming through the pub window."
Hilarious. How stupid would you have to be to be fooled by any of this? Who out there is reading these words and saying, "No, Fleming! You have it wrong! That's brilliant! I need that in my life! Wow!"
Going to change, though.
It's so asinine to me when people try to trick me and lie to me. They know me well enough. It's not going to work. I am always going to know. And then there are people who know me well who have a front row seat to what happens here and to me and my mind. And sometimes they will lie. Last week, someone I know tried to lie to me about six times over in a rapid flurry. And I wanted to say, do you really think you're tricking me? I'm not one of these idiots you play grab ass with, to whom you can just say anything.
I know what happens. Someone can't bring themselves to do the right thing. For whatever reason. The reason doesn't have to be that they're awful or up to no good. They just can't do the right thing. So when they know that I know that, and it's put in front of them, or to them, they start to try and whitewash, and make excuses, and give these reasons, which I can shoot through in a nano-second while hardly paying attention. Then what do I do? Because then it's like I'm crushing someone. They can't fight back. I'm not fighting with them, but that's how they feel. I've simply said a few true things. Politely.
So many people are this way. Maybe 1. Do the right thing in the first place or 2. Stop. Just knock it off. Say, "yeah, I mean, obviously. You're right. You got me. My bad. I don't need to keep digging this hole. I can step out of it now." Then fix it. Fill it in. Find a solution. In this one instance I was able to think of a half dozen easy solutions. Just better ways to handle everything. Fear has a lot to do with it. It's not just that there aren't many brave people out there. There aren't many people who aren't ruled by fear over not much at all. There are easy, practical solutions to a lot of this stuff, but people double down and they cling to blinders.
I pitched something on James Agee's film criticism. Also watched Henry King's The Gunfighter and Allan Dwan's The River's Edge.
On Friday I ran 2000 stairs and did 100 push-ups. When I began the push-ups, I could do a set of fifteen, and now I can do a set of thirty. On Sunday I ran 3000 stairs and did 200 push-ups, and also did 200 on Saturday and ran 5000 stairs. Sunday also marked 2198 days, or 314 weeks, without a drink. I went to screenings of The Wizard of Oz and North by Northwest at the Brattle, with a stop at the Harvard Art Museums in between, where I saw quite a few works, but focused on Braque.
The Wizard of Oz and its horror components are discussed at some length in my book in my Scrooge book, because Noel Langley wrote the script for both The Wizard of Oz and that 1951 adaptation of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, which I put forward as the best horror film ever made. People talk about the start of The Wizard of Oz being in black and white, but it's not. This is crucial. It's sepia. You would have known--on a subconscious level, maybe, all that same--that when you were attending this picture in 1939--or watching it in the years since--that you were in on a wink, let us say. The film wasn't color, but it wasn't black and white; in other words, something was up, and you were let in on that secret. You were a part of it. The movie wins us over early that way. We like to be in on things.
Also note how early "Over the Rainbow" is sung in the movie, but it's not forced. Big number to come so early, and it's important it doesn't feel jammed in there. Watch how Judy Garland steps into the song. She steps right into singing it. Actually steps. She's not stationary. What you want to do in certain movies--and certain stories--is establish friendships quickly. Immediately, even, but have them be believable. The Wizard of Oz does that. Star Wars--which I refuse to call A New Hope--does that. This is effective because actual friendships are often made very fast. Right? Within seconds or minutes. That's because we're inclined to connect with that person and them with us. It would almost seem artificial, or contrived, but right away we can feel the friendship, and we know it's not. Langley wrote with a lot of humor in Scrooge; it's dark humor, but it's an exceptionally funny picture, and a funny horror picture at that. Oz is also funny. Lots of lines for laughs. Think about when Dorothy tells the Wizard what they did to the Wicked Witch of the West. "We melted her," she flatly says. Then the Wizard cracks wise, says something like, "You might say you liquified her!" I went to hockey camp as a kid at West Point, and there was what resembled a castle on the other side of the Hudson, on a cliff. People said it was the inspiration for the witch's castle in The Wizard of Oz. They use a matte painting most of the time for the castle in the film, but who knows, could be. The witch's death scene is horrific and funny--she narrates her dissolvement. Also: there's a big influence of painter Grant Wood on the movie. Those callipygian hills, and also the American Gothic quality. I like those parts when the Yellow Brick Road is all torn up, and bracken and weeds grows in the middle of it. That comes as a surprise--we have this immediate expectation when we first see the Yellow Brick Road that it will be pristine all the way through, that it's inviolable. The film also features the words caliginous and pusillanimous. Probably not what you'd expect, right? You don't have to dumb down for people. You just have to be clear, and clarity is a matter of context. Give them other/additional ways to know what things--or words--mean. Surroundings are a big part of that.
Yesterday I only ran 1000 stairs and did 100 push-ups. On Tuesday I walked thirteen miles and did a personal best 500 push-ups. I did them between 8 AM and 2 PM. The last 150 or so were hard. I collapsed a couple times, but I made up those failed push-ups. No cheating here. I was doing the last 100 or so inside the building, just dripping, so in between sets I'd walk from the first floor to the fifth, to keep moving. Have to be fit to beat bigots.
I have an idea for a Beatles piece on the concert they gave in Vancouver in 1964, as well as some ideas pertaining to "If I Fell" for Same Band You've Never Known. I have ideas for Halloween features and op-eds on costuming--in the larger sense, and how Halloween is one of the few times we take off the bad kind of costume--and Children of the Stones, a BBC series from the 1970s, 1982's Halloween III, Philly Joe Jones' "Blues for Dracula," 1962's Carnival of Souls, Ray Russell's 1962 novel, The Case Against Satan. For Christmas I have ideas on the Beatles at the Star Club, Judy Garland's first live performance of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," the Smurfs' 1982 Christmas special, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and slavery, Elvis's Christmas recordings, Sir Andrew Caldecott's 1947 collection, Not Exactly Ghosts, and that kind of believable fast friendship of which I spoke above with Miracle on 34th Street.