March 29th, 2007


Howard Hughes and the Brick Wall

I think this entry shall have need of partitions...


Yesterday was the worst sort of writing day. First I sat and stared at the iBook's screen and keyboard for two hours, trying to find the place where The Dinosuars of Mars begins. Then — haltingly, tentatively — I wrote for another three hours. In the end, I had 575 words, none of which may prove to be usable.

Later in the day, I ended up back at the Woodruff Library at Emory, looking for answers I'd thought I already had. And that was work yesterday.

For dinner, Spooky made a very excellent pizza, and we finished off the bottle of serviceable merlot. We watch Cannery Row (1982) on VHS, a copy rented from Movies Worth Seeing because Spooky had never seen it. But the tape was in awful shape, the picture quality extremely poor, and pan and scan besides. Someday, I hope to see the film on DVD. It's a darling romp of a movie and moderately true to Steinbeck, even if David Ward found it necessary to burden the story with his baseball obsession. Back in 1982, Ward was still trying to get someone to bankroll Major League (1988), and I suppose his preoccupation with that project was allowed to creep into his Cannery Row script. Most of the rest of the evening was spent reading, first one book and then another.


So, yes, Oprah Winfrey has chosen The Road for her book club thing. And, somehow, she's finagled an interview with Cormac McCarthy. She has even deigned to say of the novel that "it's fascinating." How utterly fucking insipid. I suppose — to put on my Lemony Snicket hat for a moment — fascinating is a word which here means almost unutterably horrific, brutal, and uncompromisingly bleak, an ode to the end of humanity. I admit I am disappointed that McCarthy accepted her invitation for an interview, but what the hell. I expect his agent and publisher would have had massive fucking coronaries and dropped dead if he'd done otherwise. I must accept that I live in a world where Oprah Winfrey is the ultimate arbiter of what one should read.


I've been meaning to write more here about Children of Men. I think it's going to be with me for a very long time, that film, as well it ought. More than anything, and like The Road before it, Children of Men stoked my conviction that we are indeed living at the end of the Golden Age of Mankind, or at least the end of this particular human civilization. That almost everything we take for granted today may, only a couple of decades farther along, seem entirely remarkable, that our most mundane artefacts and toys will stand as incredible examples of luxury and excess. That all of this will pass away, and the "simplest" bits of our day-to-day lives will become miracles of a half-remembered past. A past which will be responsible for that future-present misery. It is difficult to force myself through the trivial routine of my days when these thoughts are front and center. It is difficult to see beyond the veil they draw up about me and difficult to push it all aside long enough to write my silly little stories.

Postscript (1:27 p.m.): If, in 2027, I can look back at that last paragraph and be completely appalled and embarrassed at how completely wrong I was, because everything turned out just fine and fucking dandy, well, then I can die a happy woman.

"Just a Lifetime"

Admittedly, I've never cared much for either the Legendary Pink Dots or Edward Ka-Spel's solo work. Spooky, however, is a great admirer of both, and last night she read me the following lyrics (printed in Ka-Spel's book Love and Loud Colours, 2002, though the lyrics date from 1989)...because, you know, I needed something to fucking cheer me up. They spoke directly to that terrible space where I am right now, and so I'm posting them here:

Weeping like the ghost of winter, we watch our tears kiss ash and turn to steam. We walk on hot coals where a stream meandered. Tarred and tanned. We flex and count the tumors on our hands - spreading swiftly now. For this, we've waited just a lifetime.

Sun blessed mirror shaded mad dogs. Blow a kiss we'll all fall over. Hunting the oasis but there's only cola - sensurround. A technicolour thrill - It costs a fortune, so it must be real. For just a little sip, we'll keep waiting (just a lifetime).

And some of us went underground. We dug a hole and settled down. We waited for the gentle sound of steady rain to soak the ground and rattle on our ventilator. Guess the time we sat there waiting. Yes, you guessed! We waited just a lifetime.

And dragons walked the earth again; paraffin was free. A fire-eater went insane and torched the final tree. Then one fine day the planet crumbled, just 'cause someone sneezed. For this, we waited just a lifetime.