Ran 5000 stairs on Saturday, 3000 yesterday, which also marked 1995 days, or 285 weeks, without a drink of alcohol. On Facebook, a post popped up from someone I don't know, with whom I'm not "friends," saying she'd now gone an entire year sober. She said that she was an alcoholic and had always been ashamed and embarrassed by the term. I was not an alcoholic, but I had a drinking problem, and drank more than many an alcoholic, certainly, with my twenty units or so a day. The reason I don't drink anything right now is two-fold, I'd say. One: publishing. I am going to beat these people. And for that I have to be strong, and this is one way I'm a little stronger. And then there is peace of mind. The worry that drinking at all would cause me, when it comes to my heart. I simply feel better knowing I take no alcohol. It's a small thing, but I need that small thing. I could have the dram once a week, or the porter in a bar here at Christmas time on a Sunday afternoon as I read an Agatha Christie Christmas story and a football game plays in the background, and leave it at that, but this would add a worry. I have enough of those. I sent this woman the following note, which is something I tend to do, though the subject will change. "Hey, just a friendly note, as word of your streak popped up on my FB as I work in the early AM. A year is a big deal. I gave up drinking for a number of reasons about five and a half years ago, and I write on this and speak about it from time to time. Anyway, I'm but a stranger in the Boston pre-dawn, but I did want to say good for you. It's not a small thing."
Having a problem is not a sign of weakness. Pretending you don't when you do is. But fear not: that weakness can be overcome. Or that sign of weakness. Or let's even say it's not weakness--let's say it's not being as strong as one might be. Say what something, and that is strength. Including what is holding you back, or what you're struggling to deal with.
I began work on Saturday at 3:30 in the morning, and I worked straight through until 7. Started a new story, which is excellent. It's a mess right now, but I enjoy this mess. A mess for me. So it's a small mess. I can go through and de-mess it in five minutes, but I have everything just about. The voice. A voice is always different from work to work. For me. I never have the same voice twice. It's always a revelation what the voice is going to be. I'm curious to see it, hear it, discover what it will be.
My hair is starting to get long again.
Got some green peppers and strawberries at Haymarket for my heart.
A baseball stat--or stat series, I suppose--that has been on my mind which I've been meaning to get up here and will do so now. Mickey Mantle thought he was awful his last four seasons in baseball, and that was the consensus and has been in the decades since. But over those seasons, after his final great campaign in 1964, Mantle's OPS+ was 137, 170, 150, 143. Those are elite numbers. If any of those were your career OPS+, you'd be in the Hall of Fame. Or certainly the 143 on up. I'm not saying those were great years. Statistics can be quite misleading. These numbers are. But it's also a falsity to say that Mantle was not effective at all following the 1964 season. He just was not traditionally effective.
A beautiful thirty-one-year-old woman and I matched with each other on a dating site over the weekend. That is, you both swipe on the other person. I will not meet someone this way. No. I think, for me, I'll have to be where I am trying to get, someone will already know me and my work, and will reach out to me. Or I'll meet her via some avenue that has something to do with where I've gotten to. This woman lived in New Hampshire and was from New Hampshire, and was stunning. She was in front of a covered bridge in one photo, and had a Yankees cap on in another. I asked her how someone in the heart of New England had come to be a Yankees fan, to which she responded that she liked their "sign." In other words, their logo. So, a fashion choice. And which she couldn't even call by the same term. I just can't. So I erased her. Probably wasn't going to have discussions with me either about Mantle's OPS+. Probably had never heard of him. And I'm fairly confident we weren't going to be discussing Byron's letters either.
Super hero movies are a scourge on the world. All of these grown men in their forties and fifties. Remember that cartoon, Mr. Boffo? I thought that was witty when I was a teen. Sometimes there'd be an entry titled "In the land of the tiny-brained folk." Could have been entirely about the people who go to Marvel movies. What are there, like twenty Spider-Man movies? But you just need to see this new one? Because it's so amazing? It's different? I have no doubt that you could dangle keys in front of the faces of many of these people, and they'd be amused. I also have no doubt that every single beaver out in the world is smarter than these people. Or more mature. I think a beaver would look down on them. Scoff. Stick to what he had to do. Build the dam, gather the sticks to snack on later. Take a restorative swim. See what the raccoon who fishes on the other side of the pond is up to, if he's read anything good lately. Man-children.
There is a entire strata of American society made of man-children. (Barstool has created a troglodyte empire of sorts in this ass crack of society where an entire sector of the populace resides.) Chad in Meatheads is a comparative Socrates. He's a dumb person, and he hurts people quite a bit out of selfishness, insecurity, and ignorance, but he also grows, in his way. But a real way. I can cite exactly in the book when we see that growth. On the art exhibition night with his neighbor. After Old Grapey's wife dies. When he chaperones the lonely girl on the school field trip to the seashore.
I think Chad would go with the boys to a Marvel movie, on opening night--like that is the proper way to go. But I don't think he'd get much out of it. Or he'd get less out of it as his own story goes along in the book. I think he'd want something else. He wouldn't know what that was, or how to locate it, and he probably wouldn't try, and would just drink and watch the Patriots--or Tampa Bay now--instead, and crave a sophomoric kind of approval from people he should . I don't knock someone for what they like. I fault someone for that being all that they can see. All they are willing to see. Do you know that photo of John Lennon and he's wrapped around Yoko Ono? We become like that--in that wrapping posture--when we are limited in what we see. We wrap around that one thing. We smother it, and we smother ourselves. Rather than expanding, we contract. Our thoughts and our mental abilities fall along accordingly. That is what you get with these man-children and super hero movies.
Watched some of the 1958 Ben-Hur last night. There’s the big spectacle of the chariot race. I’m never keen on spectacle in art because I know the outcome. I just want it to get done as fast as possible. I need the relational in art. Because we never know how that will work out. The relational is life. I'd say that that is the foundation of all my work. And that can be a story with no humans, or just one human. But the relational is crucial.
That was largely flown in from my Twitter. Someone with a master's degree in criminal justice had this to say: "Yeah but watching also. It's the chariot race, not scene, and you never really know how a race will turn out."
You'll see that. Someone won't hit that like button (and never has, but watches all I do), they'll often have had a few pops, and they'll take me on. It's proving time for them. Finally. Their courage is up. Or they're just going to go for it, at last. And it's always the same: the broken English, the slipshod logic. The tone of the sniff. "But but but."
To which I responded, "Of course I do. He's going to win. And they're going to take a long time to tell me what I already know. Superfluosity. Like what? He's going to finish fourth?"
This is similar to when I used to come home late at night, and all of the drunk people were out. Who do you think the bros wanted to started something with? The bigger, athletic-looking guy. Proving time! It's just not going to go the way you want it to go here in one of these mind v. mind contests. Energies are better directed elsewhere.
Linus’s recitation—blanket in hand—from Luke is one of the great moments in television history. It’s less a God thing and more a human thing. Good will between humans. Here is Orson Welles’ interpretation of the same text. And here is a tip: be a Linus.
Was surprised to awake and see that the Saints had shut out the Bucs, which is all the more unusual for Brady in that it was so late in the year. I was wrong about the Patriots on Saturday night. I expected them to be able to do what they wanted agains the Colts, and Jones would make enough plays to overcome what the Colts did stop. Jones is not going to have a long career as an NFL starter unless he develops his arm strength. You might be seeing his best--that is, a year in which he was not asked to do much, to not give the game away, to let others be the playmakers--not that the Patriots have many on offense--and that's about it. Patrick Mahomes doesn't have a great arm either, but he doesn't need it. The reason being that Mahomes moves around, plays take longer, and coverage breaks down as he does his slippery thing, so that guys are open in space, and Mahomes can float or flick the ball there. Jones can't move like that. He has to take his drop and fire into tighter places. For that, arm strength is needed. People have never understood how strong Brady's arm is. One of the strongest in the sport's history. The reason? He doesn't throw the ball fifty yards on a rope while on the run. He doesn't run. But he throws lasers at ten, twelve, fifteen yards.
Arm strength. It's misunderstood, or the concept of it is misapplied, anyway. Doug Flutie threw the ball 65 yards in the air, in the rain, for that Hall Mary in 1985 against the Hurricanes. So, what? The distance was not a big deal at the time. Nothing has ever really been made of it. But you'll see people breathlessly declaring on Twitter and sports sites that so and so threw the ball 60 yards. Well, Flutie, this little dude, did that. Arm strength is about velocity into tight windows, not heaves. I'm not sure how much one can improve one's arm strength. Jones has the additional issue of playing in the weather of New England. That was something people didn't fully appreciate about Brady--how his arm strength made weather irrelevant and also an advantage for his team, given that the other team's quarterback--you saw this again and again with Peyton Manning--had an issue with the same weather. That was a factor in many Patriots postseason wins over two decades.
No one in the NFL is that good right now, but I also have the feeling that the Patriots caught a number of teams at the right time, with injuries and COVID. The contests against Buffalo in Foxborough and Miami down in Florida will prove what they are.
Watched a couple of Rankin-Bass specials in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and Frosty's Winter Wonderland. Went to a concert by Blue Heron of Baroque Christmas music out at First Church off of Harvard Square. The day was darkening as I arrived, and snow had started to fall. Was raining and slushy on the way home. Took this photo of a nearby cemetery en route back to the T. I accidentally hit some flash feature on my phone, so it looks like it wasn't dark, which it was, but I like the granulated texture of December snow.
And then here's lit up Christopher Columbus park, closer to home:
I listened to Oasis's new Knebworth album, the Vaccines' Back in Love City, an episode of the podcast Uncanny (it's so obvious most people are flat out lying about their "ghostly" encounters, and their psychological needs for doing so are obvious as well), Bach's Christmas Oratorio (Gardiner/Monteverdi Choir/English Baroque Soloists), Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas, Pink Floyd at Leeds in 1970 two weeks after the Who cut their live album there (check out this outstanding version of the then-untitled "Atom Heart Mother").
I'm also reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road for reasons I won't go into. It's not for my edification, or to write about it. Will finish that this week.
This is a cut called "Alone Star" from that new Vaccines record. Good, yes?
Something I am studying right now: Bob Dylan's live performances from autumn 2002. Also, I would like to write a feature next year on the Grateful Dead's 1972 European tour.
I saw yesterday where a fan of 1951's Scrooge said that the only objection they had with the movie was the title change, and that if A Christmas Carol was good enough for Dickens, then that title should have been good enough for the producers of the film. Scrooge was released as A Christmas Carol in the States, but it's original and proper title is Scrooge for a good reason, which I think the book makes clear. It's not really A Christmas Carol, if you catch my meaning. The movie is a portrait of a person, and a kind of person, and it's acutely about him/them. The script--especially in Noel Langley's additions--make this a work about Scrooge, for a picture called Scrooge. It's also not called A Christmas Carol because Christmas, in some ways, is ground out of it. A reason why it's a film for all the year 'round. But it's not the seasonal picture that most adaptations are. It's not high in Christmas trimmings. Not on the surface level, anyway. Christmas is in the veins of this movie, but again, the veins.