If you're like me, you're looking for anything that might bring a little sunshine into these cloudy days. I've been listening to a lot more music and a lot less news lately, partly because I finally joined the masses and bought an iPod, and partly because the news makes me want to smear honey all over my body and toss myself to the bears.
This weekend I loaded up over 1000 songs on my new iPod. This morning I plugged it into my car stereo, hit shuffle and off I went, running on an admittedly eclectic and sometimes weird mix of Miles Davis, Drive-by Truckers, Tom Waits, Dave Edmunds, The Dixiecups, Coldplay, Count Basie, the White Stripes and Big Joe Turner.
Much better than the news.
Another reason not to jump from a high place: I'm writing every day and should have this novel ready to send out by Christmas. I don't even know if my agent is still interested in being my agent, and I don't care. I will have this book done. And it's good.
For those of you who care (both of you), this comes after almost 3 years of not writing anything more challenging than this blog. Now I'm writing 300-400 words a day, more on weekends. It's not a lot, but it's moving the rock up the hill.
That's my narcissistic post for the day. Yes, the Planet is all about me and I apologize.
For those of you looking for something a bit more entertaining, here's a short list stolen from the Atlantic, who adapted it from a book by Eric Hanson called A Book of Ages: An Eccentric Miscellany of Great Moments in the Lives of the Famous and Infamous, Ages 1 to 100 (Harmony Books). Make me feel less guilty for stealing it and buy a copy.
I like this list because it reminds me how easily our lives are changed completely by small, random acts. If I had to pinpoint my time it was when, on a whim, I went on an audition for summer theater and met the woman who would be my wife.
If you want to play, tell us about a seemingly insignificant event that took your life in a new direction.
Now, in no particular order, is the (heavily-edited) list:
1. Keith Richards is evacuated from suburban London to escape German buzz bombs, 1944.
2. Sigmund Freud sees his mother naked, 1859.
3. Alfred Hitchcock’s father sends him down to the police station with a note instructing the officer in charge to lock him in a cell for five minutes, circa 1905.
4. Proust suffers his first asthma attack, circa 1881.
5. Martin Luther King Jr. sings in a boys choir at the premiere of Gone With the Wind in Atlanta, 1939.
6. Giacomo Casanova experiences his first orgasm, 1736.
7. Joan of Arc begins to hear voices, 1424.
8. After twirling lassos in Disney’s Frontierland and pricing hats in Adventureland, Steve Martin gets a job doing magic tricks in Fantasyland, 1960.
9. Clyde Barrow meets Bonnie Parker, 1930.
10. Ho Chi Minh is working as a pastry cook at the Carlton Hotel in London, circa 1916.
11. Thomas Lanier Williams shuttles from New Orleans to California, Missouri, and New York; along the way, he adopts his college nickname of Tennessee, 1939.
12. Adolf Hitler grows a mustache, 1919.
13. Gertrude Stein meets Alice B. Toklas, 1907.
14. Charles Manson buys a copy of the Beatles’ White Album, 1968.
15. For a television special, broadcast from Hawaii, Elvis Presley commissions a special patriotic caped jumpsuit with a sequined eagle, 1973.
16. Ian Fleming vacations in Jamaica with his mistress, 1948. While there he purchases a copy of Birds of the West Indies, by the ornithologist James Bond.
17. John Lennon and Yoko Ono have a session with Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibowitz. The most famous image is of John nude and in the fetal position embracing Yoko, who is fully clothed. That evening, Lennon is shot dead by a deranged fan, 1980.
18. Paul Newman’s name turns up on President Nixon’s secret enemies list, 1973.
19. Abraham Zapruder makes a keepsake film of John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as it passes the book depository in Dallas, Texas, 1963.
20. Jack Welch retires after 20 years as chairman and CEO of General Electric, taking with him a retirement package paying for telephone and computer service at his five homes; flowers, food, wine, and waitstaff when he’s in New York; memberships at three country clubs; Red Sox, Yankees, and Knicks tickets; a box at the Metropolitan Opera; very nice seats at Wimbledon, the French Open, and the U.S. Open tennis tournaments; and dry cleaning, for the rest of his life, 2001.
21. Hunter S. Thompson invents “shotgun golf” at Owl Farm, in Woody Creek, Colorado, 2004.
22. Robert Frost gets the young Truman Capote fired from his job at The New Yorker after he walks out of one of Frost’s poetry readings, 1944.
23. George Plimpton appears as a corrupt spelling-bee emcee in episode 303 ofThe Simpsons, 2003.
24. Poet Marianne Moore throws out the first pitch at the Yankees’ season opener, 1968.
25. Dame Agatha Christie complains that Miss Marple is nothing like Margaret Rutherford, who portrays her in the film versions of Christie’s novels, 1974.
26. Walter Cronkite maintains an office and a staff of four at CBS headquarters in New York. He has a consulting contract with the network, but is rarely consulted. He thinks about writing a blog, 2005.
27. Julia Child decides to give her Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen to the Smithsonian, 2001.
28. John D. Rockefeller Sr. watches as half of the family fortune is lost in the stock-market crash of 1929. But there’s still enough Rockefeller money to found the Museum of Modern Art, build Rockefeller Center, restore colonial Williamsburg, and buy enough of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a national park.
29. Bandleader Artie Shaw dies, 2004. His obituary in The New York Times bears the byline of a reporter who died in 2002.
30. Dr. Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, celebrates his 100th birthday, 2006.
That's it for now. My advice is, seek out good news today. As the punchline to my father's favorite joke goes: I know there's a pony in there somewhere.