Worry and Hope
New podcast w/Matt Ruff, save a prayer, ways of drawing, & more
My pal John is having brain surgery today or tomorrow. He was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor last week after a seizure episode, with no real symptoms before that. We met in 2015 because he runs a trade association adjacent to mine; we started out as allies because of the nature of the multiparty negotiation we were in, and rapidly became friends.
I almost wrote about him in last week’s post when I was prattling on about the schism of my work & podcast lives, but I decided not to once I realized that there are far more people from my pharma-world who at least respect what goes into the podcast and why I do it than people from my arts-life who have any grasp of what I do for a living.
That night, John’s wife texted about the sudden diagnosis and the upcoming surgery. The news wrecked me, and when I talked to John on Friday, we both got . . . emotional. We’d talked just 4 days earlier, with no hint of this on the horizon, gabbing about business, his daughter-in-law’s new book, biosimilars, bowling, the knee replacement he was planning to have this spring, and the concessions we make to age. I promised him that, if he’s fit to travel this summer, we’ll take in a Yankees game together.
I don’t pray; I worry and hope. But if you’re the praying kind, say one for my friend.
And now, on with The Virtual Memories Show!
This week, I posted Episode 527 of The Virtual Memories Show, featuring author Matt Ruff as we celebrate his fantastic new book, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS: A Return To Lovecraft Country (Harper). We talk about his reason for doing a sequel to his best-known novel, Lovecraft Country, and why he’d love to continue the story for a few more books. We also get into the experience of seeing Lovecraft Country adapted into an HBO series and how its departure from his book thrilled him, whether the George Floyd protests influenced his writing of his African-American protagonists this time around, and the many ways he could have died while visiting the Great Dismal Swamp to research for this book. Plus, we discuss screenwriting, how this novel’s structure differs from its predecessor’s, why the quiet moments of conversation are the most important in the book, whether it’s unfair that it takes him 3-4 years to write a book that takes me 3-4 hours to read/devour, and more. Give it a listen! (And go listen to our 2017 and 2020 conversations!) And go get The Destroyer of Worlds!
Last week, I posted Episode 526 of The Virtual Memories Show, featuring legendary artist and illustrator James McMullan. We talk about James’ new book of gouache drawings, HELLO WORLD: The Body Speaks in the Drawings of Men (Pointed Leaf Press), his three-plus decades of posters for Lincoln Center Theater, the importance of the human figure in his art, how drawing with color opened a more expressive channel for him, and why Hello World is his most personal project (even moreso than his memoir). Plus, we discuss his High Focus Drawing approach, the gestalt between model and artist, how it felt to be a ‘sissy kid’ who found power in art, and a lot more. Give it a listen!
Other recent episodes: Paul B. Rainey • Thomas Woodruff • Dawn Raffel • Ross Benjamin
Links & Such
RIP Raquel Welch (by Rhonda Garelick) . . . RIP Tim McCarver . . . RIP Istvan Banyai [TWO MONTHS AGO?!] . . . RIP Belz
Michael Dirda (2012, 2014, 2015) writes about Walter de la Mare.
I'm pretty sure Howard Chaykin (2017, 2022) had the whole “live at the mall” thing down in the early ‘80s.
I just want to say that all of you people who have been directly engaging any of those AI/ML platforms — text, image, whatever — for “fun” are idiots. (Read this transcript for more “fun”.)
Good Substack by Ilana Myer (2018, 2020) on the moral failure of wanting art only to represent flawless or utterly contemptible characters
I don't talk about TV much because everyone in the world sucks, but I did enjoy Reboot, and am bummed that it got cancelled. This interview with Johnny Knoxville about the experience is awfully good.
I’m also bummed that South Side just got cancelled. The first 2 seasons were fantastic; the 3rd, not so much.
Walter Kirn on the East Palestine disaster.
On the Road - by Jack Kerouac
Nothing Stays Put: The Life and Poetry of Amy Clampitt - by Willard Spiegelman
Another week of barely drawing, but at least I got in a sketch of John Berger, author of Ways of Seeing. I’d been working really tightly and small with some of the 2022 author headshots, but I had this great high-contrast b/w pic of him so I just decided to go big & loose. You can say I’m cheating with All Those Lines, but it’s a face and I’m happier with it than others I’ve drawn. You should go to the Flickr album of all the art I’ve made & find something you like.
Sound Body, Fractured Mind
I managed another 5-day cycle of weights & yoga, Friday-Tuesday. I got a nice walk/hike in on Sunday with my pal Fran, too, almost 7 miles around Ramapo Lake & up to Van Slyke Castle. Doing weights on Friday, it felt like I popped a tendon in my chest/shoulder, aggravated it on Sunday’s workout, and avoided some of those exercises on Tuesday. Adding a set of (elbows-in) pushups to the first-thing-in-the-morning stretch-yoga-plank routine has been beneficial. Right now, I’m in “one more pushup than the day before” mode, but that’ll peak soon.
Until Next Week
Thanks for reading this far! I’ll be back next with a new podcast, fun links, maybe some art, & maybe a little profundity or something.
A wheel is forgiving the road,
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