Monthly Archives: November 2010

Exactly right

Check out this blog post from one of my favorite writers, Esquire’s Chris Jones.

These three grafs pretty much sums up what Jones is talking about when he’s discussing book-writing:

I get a lot of e-mails, and the great majority of them have something to do with writing and how to do it for a living. Strangely — or at least it seems strange to me — a lot of people seem to think they can write a book. Nobody thinks they could start plumbing a house tomorrow; nobody thinks they could sit down first thing in the morning and spay a cat. And yet a lot of people think they can write books. “They’re just words,” someone once said to me.

There’s a story up here, probably more legend than truth. The famed novelist Margaret Atwood was apparently at a party, talking to a brain surgeon. He told her that he was going to write a novel when he retired. “Oh, that’s funny,” Atwood said. “I was thinking of doing brain surgery.”

Book-writing is a mean business. They’re just words, but they’re 100,000 words assembled in some beautiful and logical order to tell a story that keeps a reader plugging along from beginning to end.

I don’t get offended when people say things like that to me – hell, maybe these people can write a book – but to me, it’s not about saying you’re thinking about doing it. It’s about actually putting fingers to keyboard. Bearcats Rising took me about a year to write. I put my soul through the wringer for the final product. I fried my brain so hard on it that I haven’t read the book since it came out in Aug. 2009 (I might never read it at all). But sure, go ahead and write yourself a book. I’d be happy to copy-edit it.

You know, I guess I am offended a little bit.

Completing the Crazy Diamond

On May 3, 1994, a few buddies and I took MARTA to the North Avenue station, walked west to Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium and prepared for the concert of our lives.

At the time, I don’t think I really appreciated what I was about to witness. I had been a Pink Floyd fan since, probably, seventh grade, and two years later, the final incarnation of the band released what would be its final studio album and gave its final world tour. At the time, I had seen one real rock concert – Aerosmith, with special guest Jackyl! – and I was pumped to see Dave Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason (sadly, Roger Waters had been out of the Pink Floyd picture for about a decade).

And it was incredible. Though I really only knew the Pink Floyd material that EVERYBODY knows (Dark Side, Wish You Were Here) and the last couple of new albums, it was incredible. I didn’t recognize “One of These Days” or “Astronomy Domine,” because I wasn’t familiar with those portions of Floyd’s catalog (really, you have to be a pretty intense fan to own “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” I do, now.)

Sixteen years later, I remember the fog rolling into the stadium after a rainy day, making the night all the more surreal. I remember the older folks behind us asking us to sit down for the first act. I remember the Bill Clinton look-alike blowing the sax on “Us and Them” (Clinton was, in fact, in town that day). I remember “Time” and “Money” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” I remember the unbelievable light show.

A small taste here.

And here:

Tonight, I’ll complete the Floydian circle – or the crazy diamond, if you prefer.

The wife and I are going to see Roger Waters, the only original Pink Floyd member I didn’t see in 1994 (except, of course, for Syd Barrett). He’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Wall by playing it in its entirety. All the reviews I’ve read have been stunningly positive. The sound apparently is great, and the entire show (like the original Wall tour, building a Wall brick by brick before tearing it down at the end) is an amazing piece of work.

See part of the spectacle here (when the wall comes down).

I haven’t been this excited for a show in quite some time. Sixteen years later, I’m ready for something just as special as the night I walked into a stadium with a couple buddies and walked out having seen the best show of my life.

My legs are sore

I went for a run last night. Well, a run that was interrupted quite a few times by walking. It’s the first time I’ve jogged in, oh maybe, five years, and I’m trying to get back on track.

I used to jog all the time, though I never much liked it. I ran the Peachtree Road Race (10K) thrice in my teenage years, and I was in pretty decent shape. Not now. Now, I’m much heavier than I want to be. So I’ve started eating better, and I’ve begun to exercise.

The past few years, I’ve used our Elliptical to work up a sweat. But even so, I’d always feel a little guilty, like I could do a little more. Exercising while reading a magazine or watching a sitcom just doesn’t seem quite as sporting to me.

This column by Rick Reilly, when he was with Sports Illustrated, always stuck with me. Especially when he writes, “We’re here to sprint the last 100 yards and soak our shirts and be so tired we have to sit down to pee.” You don’t get that feeling by doing 45 minutes on an Elliptical. You just don’t. You can sweat and be tired and feel good about yourself. But you – and by “you,” I mean “me” – don’t push yourself to your limit. You can’t feel your heart jackhammering like a scared rabbit.

I wanted to feel that way again, especially since I’d like to run the Peachtree again next year on July 4.

So, I waited until about 8:30 p.m., so nobody could see my struggles (I figured this wasn’t going to be me at my best), and I went out. Thirty seconds into the nice, easy run, my back was killing me and my legs were heavier than bowling balls (the big-boy balls, not the little kids’ kind). I ran for probably 5 minutes before I was done with the whole running thing. It was a little nippy outside, but my lungs felt like they were breathing in Lake-Placid-in-February air. I kept walking, but clearly, I was a long way from … well … anywhere.

I walked a little. I ran a little. I began to feel better. I began to feel worse. My breathing was the same. Heavy.

Finally, about five minutes from the house, I began to jog for the final stretch. Suddenly and strangely, I smelled the odor which only emanates from a horse. “That’s weird,” I thought to myself. “Where could there possibly be a horse in range where I could smell it? Hmm, I must be having a stroke.” But I pressed on.

Until I could see my mailbox. Where I staggered for the final few steps of my journey. I felt breathless. I felt nauseous. I felt wonderful (not at all, actually). But I did begin to remember what Reilly had written 11 years ago.

I didn’t have to sit down to pee. But I felt wildly exhausted from my 33-minute excursion. I also felt I had made some progress. My heart was really pounding. A single bead of sweat ran down my forehand. This was exercise.

This was a first step.