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What a world

Monday 2/28/22

I am not someone for whom "Google" is a verb. I've never used it as a verb in conversation, text, anything I've written, or in this journal. One could look.


Yesterday marked 2065 days, or 295 weeks, without a drink. After a few days of inactivity, I ran 10,000 stairs.


I have thought about writing a book called You Don't Have to Be An Idiot: How to Become a Smart Person.


The original title was You Don't Have to Be a Fucking Idiot: How to Become a Smart Person.


That's not a joke. I've really been thinking about it. Would be like a kit. If you do these things, you'll be much smarter, and it's not hard.


I came up with a couple ideas for pieces over the weekend, one pertaining to the fiftieth anniversary of an Arthur Alexander album, the other the 100th anniversary of a Buster Keaton film.


As I was shedding one of my sweaty layers post-stairs, I came up with and wrote most of an op-ed in my head on empathy, which I'm formally writing now.


Over the weekend I also worked on two stories that are nearly done--one called "Darkness Within Darkness," which is 1100 words long, and the other called "Desilva," which is 3200 words.


Listened to all of Ladies and Gentleman...The Grateful Dead, culled from the April 1971 shows, the 13th Floor Elevators' Easter Everywhere, The Doors, and the Beatles' rooftop set. They were playing their asses off up there. Might have carried on with Billy Preston as a five-piece.


Watched 1990's Pledge Night, and man was it bad. But watchable. It made less sense as it went on, but the fun kind of not making sense with a film like this. That is, it wasn't some phony attempt to be "deep," but rather plot points that didn't add up, contradicted other plot points. The guy is there to protect his kid? So he fondles breasts? Okay.


Also watched 1981's Just Before Dawn, which was mediocre but I guess you could say solid enough. One of those ecological-horror films where someone casually litters in the woods and you know there will be comeuppance. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Long Weekend (1978) feature this device, too. It's one of those movies that in order for the story to work, there have to be all of these concessions to sense, many of them coming with the George Kennedy character, who is this forest ranger. Why does he leave the main duo on their own for an additional night of camping after the murders and the attack and the whole shooting thing? Where'd this dude go? They probably just wanted him as a more recognizable actor and he was brought in for a day of shooting and that was that.


Watched 1960's City of the Dead as well, one of the most atmospheric horror films, which you could slot into a category with Dracula (1931), Mark of the Vampire, Son of Frankenstein (1939), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), The Scarlet Claw (1944), Return to Glennascaul (1951). Not much happens, a lot of it, again, isn't especially convincing, even for this kind of thing, Christopher Lee has all of like three scenes, but the atmosphere is everything. There's never been a movie more enshrouded in fog. The town of Whitewood is like this lost version of Salem. And if your sibling was murdered by someone stabbing her in the face, I don't think, when you came upon one of the people responsible, who is a proprietress at an inn, you'd tell the woman you just met, "Wait! I have a score to settle!"


Listened to an episode of The Haunting Hour from 1949 called "Tapping on the Window." Listened to an episode called "Weekend Vacation" of the series Darkness, not much of what survives. Odd episode. The series was hosted by a guy named Claude. Really? Claude? I know little about this show. No one does. Finally, listened to a 1949 episode of the series Murder by Experts called "Summer Heat," which was poor. The series was hosted by John Dickson Carr, and the way it worked--gives you an idea of what a different time it was--was that some recent short story was turned into a radio program. One writer would pick a story by another writer. The guy who wrote this was supposed to be some up-and-coming talent, and obviously he wasn't. A ludicrous, ineffective story. It's college graduation, so a couple guys go down to the ol' university dissecting room, fish a body out of the body cooler, then lug it up to the room of one of their buddies who has had too much to drink and is asleep, and take the dude's knife, stick it into the cadaver, and he wakes up and thinks he's a murderer so now he has to cover that up. Guy takes it back to the dissecting lab, having no idea it came from there, and it's cool because he's returning it--no biggie that anyone stole a body and casually rammed a knife through the heart--but this is bad for him, all of the stress, and he doesn't get married to this totally annoying woman whose dad was going to give him a cushy job, and then he lives in an asylum but busts out for the college reunion, which happens on like the twelfth anniversary or something.


***


8:30 AM now. Wrote the op-ed about the Ukraine and empathy. It's awesome. Will it come out? Who knows. You want to see something, though? This is a tweet from someone whose job is writing for The New York Times. Not one of these people doesn't suck at writing. You can suck beyond belief, you can be as bad a writer as possible, and you can be given a job at The New York Times, Harper's, The Atlantic, The New Yorker. Doesn't matter how much you suck. Doesn't matter how good you, except insofar as you are better than all of these people could ever dream of being, and they fully know that, it will suck for you. 700K followers on Twitter for this absolute idiot. As I've said so many times: parallelism. People don't want intelligence. They don't want quality. They don't want fairness. They want people who don't threaten their self-esteem, because they're so stupid and talentless. Want more? That person has a Pulitzer. She has a MacArthur Genius Grant. According to the MacArthur people, this is a genius. They give you a check for $625K for that. What a world this is.



Actual genius lives matter.


You think any one of these people who know my work think they're a better writer than I am? You think any one of these people think they're a smarter person than I am? Do you think anyone like a Scott Stossel or a David Remnick would, say, willingly go on some panel show and discuss anything if it's my mind and words vs. theirs? Or do you think they'd know they were going to look foolish and beg out? Everyone knows the answer to these questions. And here I am. These people cannot compete with me, they know it, and so this is how they're trying to handle it.


Ran 3000 stairs. Listened to the Arctic Monkeys' AM.


A tale of two texts:


#1: I'm at a cafe working. This guy next to me is on a date and I hate his date. I feel like I should intervene. "Stop talking. You're fucking boring. No one cares about your fucking cat and his travel case. No one cares about any of it. Stop saying 'meh.' Stop saying 'yeah yeah yeah.' Buy some lettuce. And you, sir, I set you free.


#2: Turns out he's a soy boy writer with a pony tail drinking tea--the kind of guy who gets the porcelain cup and saucer rather than the to-go cup--so fuck him.