Fall 05 Backyard

It doesn’t feel as though I accomplished much this week. I don’t know what gold standard to which I’m holding myself, but it seems as though I have spent lots of time doing nothing. And not fun nothing or good nothing but nothing nothing, the sort of missing-time people talked about when they described their alien abductions. (Is that still going on, or did the aliens all leave when the X-Files was cancelled? It’s possible they regarded the show as a cover for their nefarious probing. Anyone who said they’d been beamed up for roto-rootering by the slimy grey big-eyed things would be dismissed as a nutwad who’d taken his talking points from a TV show about FBI agents who work in an office illuminated by two 10-watt bulbs. While I miss the X-Files, I do not miss having to accept Agent Scully’s ongoing skepticism; by the time the show was done, she had been abducted, wrapped in an alien cocoon, seen a spaceship leave its polar lair, discovered another buried on a shore, and so forth. Even after that, if Mulder suggested that the bright lights flying overhead in formation carving up the city with bright green lasers might be alien in origin, she would upbraid him for credulousness. An alien baby could burst from her rib cage and she’d blame it on the chicken salad sandwich she had for lunch.) But I can account for every hour, so I know I wasn't abducted. In retrospect I did no more or no less than any other week, but last week I talked a lot, so that somehow counts.

Two interviews Friday morning, at ungodly hours. Which doesn’t mean I go to sleep early; it means I wander around Friday in a stupor.

But the book proposal will be done by Sunday, and out it goes. Interviewers have asked what my next book will be, and I tell them: I intend to squander all the goodwill I’ve built up with the last three books and put out something of such limited appeal it will set me back five years. If I do sell this book, though, and it doesn’t entirely stink, well, this will be one of those Prestige things that gets you reviewed in the proper magazines. Funny-book writer surprises all with lavishly illustrated noir parody, etc. (I suppose by the third interview I will stop biting my cheek and say yes, yes of course it’s a parody! Ha ha. Obvious to all.) It’s the “lavishly illustrated” part that bugs me, because the book will need the matches to work, and custom printing like this makes publishers’ heads ache. Then again, the novel-with-pictures angle isn’t that common, so there’s that. When you have 15 seconds to get a book editor’s attention, and they flip through the book and see cool old matches, it might help.

Might. We’ll see.

Watched “Lost” last night, the stunning episode that you will never forget, as they billed it. (No spoilers follow.) First one I’ve watched while doing something else. It seemed to wander. I really, really hate the chick who’s in charge of the tail-section survivors. I am not yet scared of the Others, and their fearsome power of collective whispering.

The conclusion was indeed Shocking, but somewhat of a relief.

If you went back and watched the first episode and compared it to the last one, I think it would seem like two entirely different shows.

But of course:
New today!

Drove home; talk radio was bothersome. Repetitious contention without conclusion; verbal whack-a-mole. Dialed up relief on the iPod, rolled down the window – in November! – and listened to something saccharine as I rolled down the parkway. Sunlight on the creek. I felt better. There was a box on the doorstep from Amazon: Vaughn William’s Second Symphony, aka the London Symphony. Conducted by Boult. This was the version I heard back in 1975 when I was at summer debate camp in Iowa City; I’d stroll over from Burge Hall to the Music building, check out a record, take to a listening booth, and enjoy. The Scherzo was, and is, my favorite movement; cosmopolitan, civilized, and melancholy towards the end – it leaves you alone at the end, with nothing but lights in the distance and the breath of fall on your neck. I loved Iowa City. Coming from Fargo, stepping into places like this was like entering some ancient realm of Leaning and Knowledge.

I wonder what my life would be like if I’d gone to the U of Iowa instead of Minnesota. I think I would have adjusted better; it’s easy to get lost and swamped at a big college in a big town. Within a year or two I probably would have moved out of the dorm into a ramshackle rooming house, just like I did at the U; I would have worked at the college paper, just as I did at the U. I would have loved the downtown, which was Dinkytown writ large. I would have had a happier twenties, I think.

And I would still be there.

My day is done; I leave you with a 12 minute podcast, which I did tonight in lieu of additional bleatage. It’s a deathmatch between Paul Harvey and Arthur Godfrey, and contains one of the creepiest songs ever to reach the top ten. Trust me. And if you haven’t listened to one yet, take my word that it’s not just me yammering into a mike for 12 minutes. The yammer factor takes up 50% of the show; the rest is songs & clips.

Have a fine weekend; new Quirk today and Saturday, of course. Sorry for a lame week. See you Monday.