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Wodehouse, ass talk, Proust, Ruskin, Patriots, HOF, oratorios, Lennon, Ryne Sandberg, Chads, Satan

Monday 12/9/19

I am not sure it was a very productive weekend--probably not and I need to do much better. I prepared a number of letters and sent out several, and created a thorough blog entry which will go up later. Screened Blast of Silence, Star in the Night, a clever short from a couple years ago called Dear Satan, which is about the devil receiving a young girl's Christmas wish list meant for Santa. The devil is usually a pretty good character in artistic undertakings. Think, for instance, of The Master and Margarita. And Milton's Satan is one of the smartest beings in literary history. There are tart lines throughout the short that are quite effective. I also somehow watched all of Merry Happy Whatever, which was mostly truly terrible, but I did cry at the New Year's Eve bit at the end when the sister announces she is gay.

Ted Simmons got into the baseball Hall of Fame and I was glad, because he should have been in years ago. Sadly, I am not sure if he wasn't better than my all-time sports hero, Carlton Fisk. He was a much better hitter than Fisk. Then again, Fisk's overall game was so strong--fielding, base running. I am happy for any player who gets into a Hall of Fame. I like big Halls, because this is not like getting into heaven, as the old maxim says, and it being harder than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. (You read Twitter, and if there is such a thing as heaven--I think it's rather more complicated than that, personally--and the takeaway is that a lot of Jabba the Hutts are going to be banged aside by many a needle eye. People are crass and loathsome and it is a wonder they don't visibly drip hate off of them as they walk--ooze-- down the street.)

I thought for sure Lou Whitaker would get in, who absolutely does not belong--not that I wouldn't have thought it was cool he did get in, but if we're doing the all-time greats thing, no way--but he has the WAR vogue in his favor, but there was never a single moment when anyone thought Whitaker was one of the top 30 players in the league when he was active. I've seen people mention Ryne Sandberg in connection with Whitaker, but they were nowhere close as ballplayers. Sandberg was amazing, and also underrated. He led the league in home runs as a second baseman. Completely changed as he got older and became this deadly power hitter, after being a better version of prime Dustin Pedroia earlier on. Outstanding, dynamic player. Whitaker was very good. Check his MVP voting--he received votes in a single year. Very good at times, solid at others, never great.

The Patriots lost to the Chiefs, and while the refs were execrable, the Chiefs deserved to win and the Patriots did not. Brady has little chance to be successful on most plays. His own play hasn't slipped--or you can't tell, because he has no time and no receivers get separation. Edelman to a degree, but he looks a hair less quick to me than in the past. The lack of time is an even bigger issue than the receivers, because receivers will get open with more time. DBs can't hold coverage that long. Brady is fortunate he was able to become more mobile in his later years, because that buys a little time. I don't know how they fix this offense. I don't have a problem with Josh Gordon getting released, because he created no separation. The drops are also bad. They tried to use James White more--Sonny Michel is having a disaster season--but you can't ride him game in, game out. He's not a regular carry guy, more of a change-it-up player when you toss him the ball, or a YAC receiving burst player. The Pats could only move the ball with gadget plays. That's a sign they are desperate. They don't pull out the trick plays to wow you with the playbook, to add on in a game, to use it because they have it and haven't used it in eleven years; they use it when they need it. Needing it like this, when you only had two losses coming into the game, is worrisome. Still, the game was there, but the Chiefs DB made a great play in the end zone. At the same time, were I a Chiefs fan, I would not have been massively heartened by what I saw. The Patriots are going to have a challenge with the Bills--they can make a run at this division. The Ravens are going to be tough for anyone to knock off.

By the way: yesterday was the anniversary of John Lennon's death, with a lot of America finding out from Howard Cosell during the Monday Night Football broadcast of the game between the Patriots and Dolphins. It's near the end of the game when he breaks the news. John Smith, the Patriots kicker, is about to attempt a field goal that, I believe, would have won the game, which, I also believe, was tied. I went to John Smith's soccer camp as a kid. A lot of New Englanders did, I suppose. I was curious about what happened in the game, which they had to go back to talking about, strange as that must have been. Strange and awful. Looks like Smith missed the field goal--a short one, in what turned out to be his best season--and the Patriots went on to lose in OT by a field goal. My dad must have been watching that game. I wonder what he thought when he learned the news about Lennon.

I ran three miles and walked three on Saturday and walked another three on Sunday, and climbed the Monument ten straight times on Saturday and five straight times on Sunday. I spoke to Andrea and she is trying to find a way to configure the blog so that it is easier to read the earlier entries and hopefully that will be figured out soon. People become blog fanatics and they want to go back through the months and that's cumbersome right now, certainly, I definitely get that. I'll know when I post this the actual number, but the total number of blog posts--for this journal which started last June--is somewhere up around 430, and the word count length is becoming In Search of Lost Time-like. That someone has also composed nearly seventy short stories, a novel, and all of the essays, reviews, op-eds in that time period is...well, it is what it is because it happened and people have to accept that someone can do all of this and be all of that because it happened. Happens. Never make light of something having happened and being what it is; that allows you to do and say other things because of what happened and what is; it is an invaluable piece of weaponry against enemies, if you know how to use it. And I have figured out how to.

I despair that I will always be alone because the kind of person I would require may not exist. My friend Sarah recently remarked to me that being me, because I am unlike any human there has ever been, must be like walking around on shards of broken glass. It was an astute remark. She's completely correct. Speaking of Proust: He greatly admired John Ruskin, who knew a lot about architecture and a lot about writing, and how writing was a lot like architecture. And near the end of Ruskin's life, he remarked that his only friends were his books. He didn't have actual friends. It wasn't because he didn't want them or didn't deserve them or wasn't good enough to have friends or lots of friends. Whatever that might mean. He had no one near his level, and John Ruskin was a much simpler person than I am. Comparatively.

I was talking to this beautiful twenty-two-year-old nurse over the weekend. She had worked at a radio station in college, and music came up. She asked me what kind of music I like. Every question, even every fair question, feels so hard to answer sometimes. It's better, I think, when people know me and have read a lot, with my work, on here, and then we talk. But, she was bright and hot, you could tell she had read a lot when she was a kid, and I answered. I was going to Boston Baroque's Messiah on Saturday night, and she said something about how it was written for Christmas. I said that, no, it wasn't, really, during Handel's time it was more of an Easter piece, and she replied by saying, "technically," but that style of music is for Christmas. Ugh. By this she meant, there being a choir. And it's like...I just can't.

Here's the thing: know something or don't know it. It's totally fine if you don't know it. But I can't do the thing with you where you talk out of your ass. I cannot do ass talk. Sodomy throughout a romantic weekend? Obviously. I'm joking. Well, let's say I'm joking for the sake of this argument. People want to do ass talk in this world where no one knows anything, and knowledge does not matter; what matters is being able to say whatever the hell you want and no one challenges it or refutes it or corrects it, and if they do, you can say they attacked you are a victim, they are a racist, they are a misogynist, they triggered you, etc.

I know most things. When I don't know something, I learn it. I didn't know a lot about leveraged buyouts recently so I learned about them. The form she was referencing--without knowing it--is the oratorio form, and the oratorio form is not a direct result of Christmas or an immediate relative of Christmas. That's like saying the opera idiom is a result of New Year's. I just couldn't do it anymore. So I moved on. I waste no time when it is time to move on.

My friend John said something to me over the weekend--in texts--that he probably thought nothing of which surprised me a little. He has two little girls. If I was not in this position, I would probably know them, and John has expressed an interest in that over the years, saying he would like to have me in their lives, imparting what I can impart, which is different than what others impart. I'd see them--and John and his wife--if I was not in this hell, in this war, which takes everything of me and from me; I could not take a trip, as it were, right now. Not because I'm "too busy"; I could not function. What this is like is like being tortured every second of your day, and being fully conscious of it, of the methods, the pain, the injustice, the brutality, and literally never having a single second without the acute awareness and all of the concomitant feelings. Imagine your worst nightmare. You feel it, you're terrified, then you have the sense that it must be a nightmare, it couldn't really be that bad, you'll wake up. That's my life, only I know I won't wake up. And I asked him something like, "do they know anything about me? Do I ever come up?" Conversationally, I mean. And he said he brings me up all the time, and he reads them my work and will play radio segments for them. I had no idea. I texted John a link to a short film over the weekend that they could all watch together on YouTube that I thought they would all really like.

I also read a lot of Wodehouse over the weekend. I imagine sitting up late at night when I have my house back in Rockport, and one of the things I'm often reading in this vision of the future--hopefully the near future--is Wodehouse or Sherlock Holmes stories. And he's really good, Wodehouse. He's funny, but the humor is tight-leashed. He keeps it within a tight radius. Tight circles, humor on the radial line. The humor is really closely bunched, we might say, but effective. Fresh--but not surprising. And as I read, I thought how Chads is so much funnier. The novel I composed in a week is so much more alive with its humor, which does not do the tight radius thing; it's more pointilistic; it can come from anywhere. And each time some of it comes, it can be completely different than any of the humor that came before. That's not what Wodehouse does. Chads is more surprising. I know the kind of thing I am going to be getting when I read Wodehouse, and I like that thing; readers can never know--as in expect--what they'll be getting with Chads, and I think that is the kind of art and entertainment that separates itself from work even as great as Wodehouse's.


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