It’s all fun & games until you stab yourself with the meat thermometer.
Ravinia Bob asked me a couple of weeks ago what my dream job would be and I said writing about old soap operas. Luckily that will never be a job, unless somebody is paying in unicorn dollars. Then I told him about my strategy to avoid revealing too much to others in conversation, which is to keep asking questions. Most people really only want to talk about themselves, so I let them do it. This is my policy at work and even in life most of the time, to be cagey about my own affairs and wisely keep the other person talking. I save all my secrets for this important blog.
Here's what happened this week.
THE SONG I LISTENED TO THE MOST
In truth this is a song I've listened to for most of the past six months, ever since I first heard it on The Highway (SXM™) while pulling out of the parking lot at Target, which is a weirdly specific memory (cf. memory + music). I heard the opening of the chorus first and said out loud to myself, what a deeply offensive song this is! I can't believe it's playing right here on the sat rad that fueled 30% of my retirement funds! (Jk, I'll never be able to retire.) And then I clapped my trap and listened to the rest of it, and quickly came to appreciate how he wedges the word "difference" into what's essentially a one-syllable beat. This is a feat I haven't been able manage no matter how many times I practice (it's been six months, as I said, so I've practiced a lot).
Any of the following could be used to identify me as the writer of an anonymous op ed
This whole stupid story feels like it happened a million years ago, doesn't it? I truly believe experiencing the daily dread of this cracker-fuck phase in American history is what is making me feel so old lately, and sucking the soul out of my own American soul. Anyway, here's my list.
Sly parenthetical asides
Extravagantly self-indulgent run-on sentences
Hatred of birds
Hart to Hart
Some things I read
🔗 Glenn Close on Jeff Goldblum: "Jeff is charm personified. The demented smile, the verbal agility, the jerky yet somehow graceful way he moves. A lot of arm stuff." She really nails it—"a lot of arm stuff." That's all you need to know about Jeff Goldblum. I first came across that GQ profile last year at the hairdresser, where I did all my Man Reading, and then it was referenced in a Washington Post article this week about the upcoming release of a jazz album by none other than Jeff Goldblum. Good luck & godspeed to all you faithful Goldblumers!
There are people with big talent. Some of them become big stars. They appear in serious movies and win awards. This is all fine. I love some of those actors. But the charisma of Burt Reynolds – the way he carried himself – the way he wore his fame lightly, making fun of it – the way he handled his sexuality in an almost casual and self-deprecating humorous way (“Relax, honey, I’m not that good” he says into Jill Clayburgh’s ear before they go to bed for the first time in Starting Over) … all of these indefinable things that made him a superstar … these are the reasons people have such affection for him, this is why he was a star. For the “silly” stuff, the silly stuff that entertained millions. It’s undervalued, this kind of thing.
She's writing about how most people list Boogie Nights as their favorite Burt Reynolds performance, which is fine. I guess I believe them. But that performance wasn't everything great about Burt Reynolds, it's just everything to a certain type of person who wants to believe a certain type of thing, who wants to tell themselves a story about what makes a certain type of art worthy of their attention and approval. And it dives right into my thinking not only on soap operas and romance novels but sitcoms and most musical theater, which is to reject this garbage notion that only "serious" art is worth elevating and appreciating. Love what you love! Loudly and often. Love what makes the quotidian tedium of life bearable and memorable for you and you alone. For me it's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which I watched again last night. Burt swears a lot and struts around in tight khaki pants and makes out under the stars with Dolly Parton, and once in a while he warbles a tune. What's not to love about that?
Something about soap operas
"On the genre"—this is actor Charles Keating, who played Carl Hutchins on Another World, from Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera:
This is a genre, unlike all others, that requires one thing of its audience—its memory, its collective recollection of who you are and what you've done. That is extraordinary.
Another extraordinary thing is that they shoot us from neck to crown. Now, if you have a face on the screen in your home, several times a week, that is powerful. There's no other form that concentrates on faces, eyes and mouths, and things being said to each other—oftentimes lies.
A clip from General Hospital
Yes! I've talked about talking long enough, when everybody knows soap operas are about love in the afternoon. So here's another fight ("And my last word to you is, I'm leaving!") followed by some lip-lock action with extreme crown shots (8:00), tied together by a petulant and deliciously drunk Alan Quartermaine in plaid flannel.
There's a reason the marriage lasted 30 years in both soap and real time, that's all I'm saying, and that reason is he's irresistible.
A BLOG POST THAT'S MAKING ME HAPPY THIS WEEK
You’ve said that even if nobody read your blog, you would still blog every day. What is the value to the pure act of blogging?
Every day, I have to stand for something. Notice something. Put it down for all to see. The act is clarifying. It requires me to be a bit less of a hypocrite. And on a good day, it’s generous. That’s a pretty great combination.
My act of blogging is self-referential and self-regarding, but sure, also clarifying. Blogging is how I reflect on events and process my own thinking and the world at large, and as I mentioned in the lede it's also how I let people know I'm still alive.
My #2 happy blog post is Kelly Conaboy on Sam Neill's "farmland situation" at The Cut. I'm very glad Kelly Conaboy has found a new place (The Cut) to appreciate things I likewise appreciate. Appreciation for dumb small things is what blog posts are for and all they should be about, in my opinion. This has never been a secret.
"If my career as a writer ends, guess what I'm gonna do next? I'm gonna get a job. I'm gonna get a job, and I'm gonna keep writing in my bedroom like I did before anybody cared."
I love to write but I don't want it to feel like a job, ever, so it's wedged between a hobby and a vocation, which is okay with me. I don't want editors! I don't need tips for improvement! It's something I do for play and sanity, nothing more, and when one day this blog dies, as nothing gold can stay, I'll keep on writing in my bedroom, too, just for me. It's the one thing in the world that I have that nobody else can touch.
Your weekly Bruce
I reactivated my Twitter account last week bc I still like to fav things but I will never tweet again. My pledge to you (probably a lie)! I also deleted most of my timeline, and the posts I left behind are a real distillation of my true self; it’s all about dogs and Bruce Springsteen.
Thanks for listening and keep on rocking, even if it kills you.