Here is yesterday's Downtown segment. This is the most tired I've ever gone on the air. I might as well have been a drunk on the floor just roused from slumber. I could barely keep my eyes open. I'm exhausted most of the time lately. It's a combination of having no hope and having to do all that I have to do all the time. I talked about Red Sox, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Jimmy Blanton, Tolstoy, Hendrix, Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Johnny Dollar, Orson Welles, Terry Sawchuk, Charlie McAvoy, etc. After having said that Bergeron's game might be slipping, he goes out and scores a hat trick against the Flyers. And having questioned J.D. Martinez as a winning ballplayer, he walked off the Red Sox last night. That's funny. What I would think happened with Bergeron is that he was not happy with his play of late, and Cassidy may have even said something to him, and he rallied. Martinez, when he's on, is a pure hitter. He'd hit through a gale. But his attitude last year and admission that he just wasn't prepared, bothered me. As does his need to have his technology in between at-bats.
When I see a "ur," I sound it out as one does when they actually read, which hardly anyone does now, because I am an adult and not an adult-child who communicates in text-speak, a comment which I grant is unfair to children since children are often more articulate than adults. So today I encounter a dating profile and the profile name of that person was URN4FUN, which I read as "urine for fun," as though this person were a huge proponent of water sports. I thought about pointing this out, as someone for whom "Ur" is prefix-like, as in, Ur-text, but of course no one would get that, let alone this person, so I just walked away. She had the filters going in the photos, which is no great surprise. Likes to pretend she's a cat. Forty-eight-years-old. Awesome. So many prized pickings out there for the C-Dawg.
I wrote a story called "We're Happy Tonight," which is about three girls, let us say age fifteen or sixteen, and they're staying over one of the girl's houses. It's winter break. They have this plan to sneak out and meet up with these boys, who are likewise staying over at one of their houses. They're sitting in a bedroom, on the floor, passing a whiskey bottle around, but also spitting some of the whiskey back into the bottle. So they're varying degrees of drunk but maybe not as drunk as the others think. And the girl whose house it is says that they need to be really careful with the door when they leave, because there is this sleigh bell decoration thingy on it on the outside, which her parents have up all year, because they say it wards off evil spirits, but she says it's probably just to make it harder to sneak out. We learn about a couple things that have happened in the houses of the two other girls, and when it's time for them to leave, at two in the morning, everyone is kind of hesitant, but for different reasons.
Anne, the girl whose house it is, is kind of the leader, at least on this evening, and she wants to see and hook up with her boyfriend, even if they have to do it in this field where everyone is planning to meet, because he's been away over the break at a basketball tournament. She says that she'll take the decoration off the door, so the other two don't have to bother with it, and gets up with some gusto. One of the friends follows her because she doesn't want her to get hurt by going alone, and the other, who has been grappling with some stuff, which we see play out in her thoughts, goes as well because she doesn't want to die alone. She's going down the stairs with the other two and she thinks she hears this voice that says, "you don't have to." They get to the door and Anne takes down the decoration, which is just these bells on a leather string, and they stand their listening, before deciding that it's just too cold, which isn't the real reason at all, and they all have their different actual reasons, but with this very real fear shared by each of them. The girl who we know thought she had heard a voice--and there are these subtle signs that the others may have had a similar experience--has been standing in the crack of the door. Anne puts the decoration back up on its nail, and as she and the other friend on the porch turn to go back inside and upstairs again, they notice something about their friend. It's a small thing and a big thing. It could also be nothing. But it's a very curious thing.
So the story is a ghost story, definitely, but also kind of not, paradoxically. And it's a horror story, but there's also a simple explanation for everything, which, in the context of the story, hardly diffuses anything. It's a story of intense psychological realism, too. The death of youth. The premature death of youth. One could give it a feminist reading and a feminist critique. It's massive and ranging, but it's also small and subtle. And it's made from three girls, a sleepover, and some bells on a string. That's it. You're dealing in something utterly unlike what people write or what is published. There are not stories like this. And in an industry where people look for versions of what they've already seen, many, many, many times--when that is among the chief criteria--I don't know that there's anyone in that industry, having been trained as they've been trained, being a near-total product of that environment, who could even begin to recognize what something like this is. I think it would be totally lost on these people, fly right past them, even if I were not hated and blackballed. Then again, if it were done by the "right" person, one of their people, it'd be celebrated, but that celebration wouldn't have been kicked off by any of them knowing what this was--it would have commenced because of the name and the need to fawn over that name. But I believe that actual people, who are not these people, would have a powerful reaction to this, if it came to them the right way, if they were told it was worth their checking out, because it was damn good.
The title comes from the 1934 Christmas song, "Winter Wonderland," which begins with the line, "Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?"
Watched The Third Man again, and was surprised anew that Welles's Harry Lime was spun off into his own radio series. Lime is one of the most evil characters in film. He kills and deforms children. His best friend executes him in the end. That look and little nod that Welles gives Cotten makes for an interesting comparison with the silent exchange at the end of Chimes at Midnight. This is the Beatles doing the Third Man theme, after something called "Negro in Reverse." Don't get mad at me. It's telling how faithful their Third Man cover is. The Third Man itself has this rare magical realism mystery quality to it.
Walked three miles yesterday, three today.
Likely no writing for the rest of the week. Just books stuff. I need to relieve some pressure. I really suck. I've done a bad job with some things. I haven't been dependable. That's not how I want to be or how I am. But without new work I struggle to keep going. Without creating new work.
I really want to find a good home for Longer on the Inside. I believe in it so much.