Yesterday on Downtown with Rich Kimball, Rich and I had an in-depth discussion of this blog for sixteen minutes. What its purpose is, how it stands apart as a unique literary work, how it stands against and reveals the corruption of an industry, how it might inspire people struggling, how it serves up art, film, literature; how it documents what it is like to live as an artist in this age, what it is like to be blackballed, how works of art are created in real time, with excursions to the forest, the ballet, the Bunker Hill Monument, radio, you name it; misadventures in dating, interactions with neighbors, a mission to remain off the booze, while being completely, utterly alone and fighting to keep going and help the world because of a skill set and a strength and a will and a vision that can help the world. Rich then exhorted the listeners of his program--none of whom have ever signed up for this blog--to sign up for this blog, and then had me exhort them, too, I suppose, by saying exactly how one went about signing up.
Not one listener did.
Excellent. That's just great.
Though to be honest, asking people to help me out--that being the key phrase--by signing up for this blog, or buying books, or subscribing to my Facebook author page, or following me on Twitter, goes against my sensibilities of what is right and wrong. Someone partaking of my work is the person getting the great deal. The entertainment, the insight, the humor, the pleasure, the fun, the inspiration. I get that other authors are charity wards because they have no talent and offer you nothing, but I have the commodities others do not, I fill the voids, I am markets unto myself. I am saying this mostly to myself right now because I am never going to forget things like this. I am going to get where I am going, and I am never going to forget people who could not have given a rat's ass as to whether or not that would be the case during this period, who will kiss my ass later. And that's not going to go the way ass kissing usually goes. My memory goes back longer than the sands of time. But yeah, that's really not cool.
Of course, this has given more traction to my belief that I am cursed. Because you can be an absolute asshole with no ability. You can be racist, sexist, a bully. You can go to the Starbucks, take a shit on a barista, post on Facebook bragging about how rude you were to someone doing their job--I see publishing people do this all the time--and you are going to be liked, followed, have your stuff signed up for. If you are an out-in-the open brusque, entitled, rude piece of character-free, talent-free scurf. You're still going to have support.
So what the hell is going on here if it is not the supernatural?
Is the problem ability? The more you have the more screwed you are? So the person with the most would, by definition, be screwed the most?
Yesterday I wrote a 700 word op-ed which I am doubtful I will be able to sell to the place I tried to sell it to--they pay me a little more--but which I may be able to sell to a stand-by venue, but they owe me like a grand and I need to sort that out first. The op-ed is evergreen-ish. It's about how people use the word "rant" almost always incorrectly now. People use it to silence opposition. A rant is something in which clarity of thought and expression is compromised by anger. But now people use it to silence critical thinking, no matter the measured tones of how those critical thoughts are expressed, how rhetorically efficacious the argument might be. The association of the rant is with anger, which is the converse of "chill," and the antithesis of tolerance. In other words, people up to no good, or people unable to deal with reality, attempt to shame people into not thinking critically, and certainly not expressing their critical arguments, no matter how meritorious or on point, by terming their written or stated arguments a rant. People also cock up the word "verbose" all the time now. They think it's a compliment. "Wow, you're such an amazing writer, that was really great, I wish I could be that verbose. That's such a gift." No. Doesn't mean what you think.
What else can I say to myself? I wrote four more chapters today of the new humor book. It is a reasonable expectation now that this humor book, which was begun on Sunday, will be at least 1/3 of the way done by tomorrow. Given its nature, it will be a short book of 85-100 pages. I've really settled in with it. I know exactly what I'm doing. I assembled the completed chapters today into a single partial manuscript. Formatted it. It's already read to show as a partial, but I might just finish it all rather than show pages from it.
Was speaking to Kimball today. I want to say here that this is a good man. He said to me that he believes in and is passionate about true talent. But I should say a little more about him. I think--I know--I give that show something no one else can. Not just that show. Any radio show. Radio is going to be a big part of my story in the end. And I'm getting better at it all the time, though I would wager that no one could hear a difference quality-wise from that very first NPR segment in 2013. But Kimball is someone who would be good to you for no other reason than because that's who he is. He's a good man with character and values. I learn from him in how he handles himself with certain things. And while I'm good on his air, he gives me that platform. Kimball backs me. It's symbiotic. But he lets me talk about what I want to talk about, he trusts me that I'll do a good job, and he supports me, and that is also something I will never forget. These books will start coming out at some point, and I will get Rich's name at the front of one as a dedication.
Yesterday I was at the Starbucks and sometimes I scribble some notes down on my many pieces of paper before I go on Downtown. I don't always do this. Basically my notes are just single words that represent things I want to make sure I get to. If you listen to radio, you'll hear that most guests are only going to give back what a host pulls from them. They're going to be really dependent on the host. Those guests can be more work. I am going to answer what you've asked me, but I have ways of bringing in things you didn't ask at all, that are germane to where my answer began, as my answer develops, and what you end up getting--and I think a host wants this more than anything--is true surprise or surprises. That popping originality but with cohesion, rather than some tangent strands. That's harder to do than it might seem. Because sometimes you start at one point, and you range way, way, way over here, but then back close to the starting point. And it just sounds congruous. So sometimes I just like to have a few things jotted down. Then I don't even end up looking.
Anyway, Emma showed up at the Starbucks, and immediately commandeered my notes from me. This kid. She starts drawing on them, then she wants to play Hangman, and Emma does not play Hangman the right way I learned. She like's to feature words that are not really words. Yesterday she led off with "horseass," then realized it was two words, and inserted a divider line. I said, "Wait, you can't just pick a random animal and stick 'ass' after it." She insisted you could. "So I can just do, what, "beaver ass? Chipmunk ass? That's how you think this works?" Apparently, she did. Then she started using whole sentences. The other day I gave her a bag of candy, right? Two Cadbury Eggs, those Robin's Eggs things with whatever the hell that crunchy chalky stuff is inside, and some jelly beans. So she uses, "I am going to poison your jelly beans when I give them back to you." For Hangman. And why is she returning these beans? That's not how that works. We're not passing candy back and forth, each having a little bit until it's all gone. So then it got super competitive. I got to be the hangman, so I busted out "tendentious," "sinecure," and "liminal." For the last one she's like, "give me a clue," and I said, "The music of Ahmad Jamal is notable for its (liminal) qualities of silence featuring heavily between the notes," and she said "I hate you" but she doesn't, ha ha!
She is 2000 words into a story she is writing. Her longest has been 10,000 words. We had a good talk about titles and how important they are. A title needs to be a mini-narrative unto itself. It needs to have tension and energy, interesting architectonic qualities, interesting musical qualities. It is the work's handshake, its greeting, it's invite to come on in. Most writers absolutely suck at titles. They are helpless. And lazy. "The common noun." Over and over and over and over again. And if you have a one word title, that has to be a special word, or it has to be a word that we think of one way that is going to be used instead a completely different way.
I usually call Emma "B." It's short for buddy. I don't call many people buddy. My dad called me that. That's how my friend Derek and I refer to each other. My sister Kara calls her kids that. I have codes for things. If I call you buddy, I like you. If I call you superstar, well, it would be impossible for me to respect you less. So there's a handy skeleton key for the biographers who will someday go through my millions of letters of correspondence. We're sitting there yesterday and she says, "I know you mean buddy, but a lot of times, when people say 'B,' they mean Baby." And I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa, let's get this down officially in a text then that I don't mean that, I don't need problems from Larry Law. She thought this was funny. I sent the text regardless. I have enough problems.
Kimball and I got to talking Red Sox today. He suggested that maybe that Chris Sale signing was a mistake. I don't feel like rephrasing all of this, so I will just paste in my take:
It was, I believed at the time, an overcompensation for having let Lester go. Sale is one of the most overrated athletes in professional sports right now. He reflects the overvaluation of the strikeout, which is a meaningless statistic, and not indicative of talent or efficiency. They ask you how many outs you get; or they should. The vogue has become to ask "what kind of outs?" Meaningless the make of the out. What did he contribute, like 12 wins last year to a 108 win team? I believe he averages only 14 wins per 162 games. That's bad. Not much bang for the buck. Health is one of the key tools for any player to possess. It may be the most valuable one, because anything else you have does not matter if you're not good at health. I don't think Sale is a good enough pitcher to be able to get by with low nineties heat. Not long term. But beyond that, this team was not ready to go. They really should have lost that one game they did win. Watching a little bit last night, the word that came to my mind was "listless." As you know, Kimball, be it in art, radio, literature, or sports, energy is crucial.
Glad Brad Marchand got 100 points. I was following that very closely. Patrice Bergeron is going to make the Hall of Fame--I'm not saying he should--but that would not be the case were it not for Marchand's ascension as an elite player. Here is a crazy stat for you: he has the sixth most assists in a single season by a left wing in NHL history. Kucherov is one assist behind Jagr for most assists by a right wing in NHL history. Guess who is third? Mike Bossy. Hugely underrated passer. Hugely underrated. Most assists by a left wing in a season ever? This is a tough one--Joe Juneau. With the Bruins. Kevin Stevens is second. Then Mats Naslund is third. You would never think that. The center and defenseman lists for these things are more what you'd think. Big surprises on the wings. A couple years ago I wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated on Brad Marchand that looks more prescient now. I wonder if he can make the Hall of Fame. He's going to be the postseason left wing All-Star, first team, this year. That will be the second time he's done that. It's obviously easier to do it as a wing than any other position, but still. If he added another, or like a Conn Smythe trophy, I think he can get in. Chara was sitting in front of me the other day at Starbucks, doing an interview. The interviewer's questions were goofy and remedial. She seemed to have no clue what she was doing. But he was very polite and professional. I believe he speaks quite a few languages.
I don't actually like Cadbury Eggs. I've never once enjoyed one. But I think I like them. I like them conceptually. So each year I get some. They make me sick. But I don't know. They transfix me. They always have. Also, it just dawned on me: Is this rabbit supposed to be making chicken noises? This is all very bizarre. The rabbit, who is clearly a rabbit, lays eggs, and during that process, acquires the voice of a chicken? What beastly vernal chimera is this?