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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Quick Thoughts

I keep humming the last verse of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer":

"In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove that's laid him down
or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame
'I am leaving I am leaving' but the fighter still remains."

This is a more hopeful note than another part of the song which has perhaps more relevance to my situation:

"Asking only workman's wages I come looking for a job but I get no offers..."

Luckily I don't pass 7th Avenue all that often.

I've been reading submissions to a literary magazine for about a week now. I've probably only read eight or nine, but I must say I am disappointed in the quality. It may just be the case that the magazine that isn't paying me to do this or the authors for their stories even can't pull in stories with, you know, literary merit. That being said, some of these stories are just irredeemably bad. The worst was about a Mexican girl being abducted by some creep and her family just letting it happen because her honor was compromised and apparently Mexico is stuck in the 16th century. The dialogue was so poorly written and awkward that I thought the whole story may have been translated directly from Spanish by one of those notoriously bad internet sites.

One of the other stories I decided to rate as "unpublishable" because the author used the word "plummeting" instead of "pummeling". Another was clearly just a dissatisfied prison psychiatrist writing about her own boring situation.

On the one hand these stories make me think about writing my own stories for submission, because I know I can do better than these, but they also remind me how difficult it is to tell a really good story. Reading a novel, especially if you're trying just to get to the end as quickly as possible, it can be so easy to gloss over some parts and miss out on the small things that make a novel enjoyable. I don't remember where I heard it, but there is the thought that a good story has at least one idea on every page: one thing that should really cause you to think about what the author is doing. Most of the stories I've been reading possess one half-formed idea at best. The story I got today honestly sounded more like someone telling me about a story they had read than actually trying to write a compelling story themselves.

It's never a good idea to get too preoccupied with how a baseball team is doing after the first week of the season. The whole point of playing 162 games is that that is really how much baseball is required before records and statistics of significance can be compiled. So I am fairly optimistic about the Mets this season. Johan Santana looks like he is going to be fun to watch. He was out-pitched today but he struck out 13 batters I believe in only 7 innings. Too bad going to a game at the new stadium would cost me more than my monthly student-loan payment.

I've seen the following movies recently, but didn't feel like posting full reviews.

The Hustler- 7.8 (Paul Newman is always good, and Jackie Gleason and George C. Scott are fun to watch in this rather deep sports movie.)

Vertigo- 6.0 (I know this is highly rated on the AFI list but I feel like there are a lot of Hitchcock films I like better.)

Raging Bull- 6.6 (This is probably blasphemous to many people but again, this is lower on my list than other Scorsese pictures.)

Children of a Lesser God- 6.8 (Marlee Matlin won a well-deserved Oscar for playing a deaf woman who doesn't want her boyfriend to teach her how to speak.)

The Front- 7.0 (Woody Allen acting in a movie about a guy who "fronts" for blacklisted screenwriters in the '50s)

Manhattan Murder Mystery- 6.4 (Clever Woody Allen movie that would be better if his character in it wasn't so extremely annoying.)

Patton- 7.6 (George C. Scott really is a phenomenal actor, and the movie is an entertaining look at a very outlandish 20th century figure.)

Network- 9.4 (This is a great movie. Paddy Chayefsky's script features memorable monologues and a intriguing dramatization of his fears regarding television. William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall and Ned Beatty are all great.)

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