Novels, Baseball, and Elton John #socs

So the prompt this week is “novel,” and NaNoWriMo just started, in which I am not participating. I did for several years and ended up each time with fifty thousand words of utter crap that wasn’t even worth rewriting. Well, it was, as long as by “rewriting” you mean “throwing it away and writing something totally different.”

When I started this blog, I thought I wanted to write a novel and had all kinds of ideas that I would write a thousand words a day on a novel. I’d even participate in A Round Of Words In 80 Days and make that as one of my goals. Then, I wouldn’t write a word. I finally sat myself down and said, “why am I not writing?” And I figured it out: I don’t even like to read novels; how’m I supposed to write one? So I tried short stories, and discovered I didn’t want to write them either. Likewise with TV and movie scripts. I found that I really don’t like fiction that much, and that disqualifies me as a writer of it.

That’s when I changed my focus here and started writing about the things I like: music, vintage TV, memories of life when I was growing up, and of course smart-assery. Sometimes I throw in a little fiction, usually unintentionally because I fudge some of the details because I forget, or intentionally because it makes for a better story. That usually takes the form of combining related stories, rearranging events, adding unrelated snippets because I don’t have a place for them, etc. So you might say there’s some fiction involved there. But I don’t consider myself a fiction writer.

I did participate in and actually moderated a collaborative fiction mailing list, and created a number of characters for it. But that was years ago, and I’ve given up on it, although the characters do pop up and tell me to write their stories from time to time. And I do, for my own amusement. I even created a new character not long ago and started telling his story, but he quit talking to me. Fine, be that way about it, Blake.

We usully think of “novel” as a book, but “novel” is an adjective that means “original and of a kind not seen before,” kind of like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. To listen to Cubs fans, you’d think it was the most significant thing to happen since the beginning of recorded history, maybe even before then. They’re wrong, of course; that happened eleven years ago when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. For years, Cub fans have been saying the reason they never won was because Sam “Billy Goat” Sianis, a Chicago restaurateur who ran The Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Wacker Drive, was kept from taking his billy goat into Wrigley Field and put a curse on them. (The Billy Goat, by the way, was the model for the “cheeseburger, cheeseburger” place John Belushi ran on Saturday Night Live.)

Sianis lifted the “curse” in 1969, when the Cubs were in the hunt for the NL East crown, won eventually by the New York Mets when the Cubs folded in rather dramatic fashion, but the legend of the “billy goat curse” lived on until 2003, when a young guy named Steve Bartman went after a foul ball that was hit into the stands, keeping Moises Alou from catching it and keeping the at-bat alive for the Florida Marlins, who went on to win that game and the next.

Nothing would have been thought of it if Alou hadn’t pitched a fit like he did. Bartman was hardly the only person reaching for the ball, and maybe not the only person to touch it. Alou had no play; the ball was in the stands and, as the announcer said, fair game for the fans. Had it been in play, the umpire would have called fan interference, the batter would be out, and the Cubs would be on their way to the World Series. As it was, Bartman was escorted out of the park, probably for his own protection, and the “Bartman curse” replaced the “billy goat curse.” The real curse all this time, I’ve decided, was owners (the Wrigley family and The Chicago Tribune) who were more interested in gate receipts than postseason glory, and kept the team good enough to compete (thus keeping the seats filled) but not quite good enough to win.

None of which takes anything away from the team, whose new owner hired one of the best GM’s in baseball, who brought in players who could go all the way and a manager who could get them there. They had a great season and got it done. Congratulations to them.

“Novel” spelled backwards is “Levon,” a song by Elton John that was on his Madman Across The Water album and one of his better songs.


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Linda Hill (who probably wants to kill me now for going well beyond the five minutes) sponsors Stream of Consciousness Saturday each week. She has all the rules and pingbacks at her site.

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

17 thoughts on “Novels, Baseball, and Elton John #socs”

  1. Listening to Levon as I comment. ❤ Thanks for the memories! My introduction to writing as an adult was through journalism and technical writing, so writing fiction is a challenge. The desire to be completely accurate, as in the world’s view of reality, can hinder creativity, except for the stories I make up in my head, of course.

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  2. Enjoyed your blog entry, as always. I liked your creation ( assume it was your creation) of the term “smart assery.” I’ll have to remember that one.

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  3. Great post! I actually didn’t know anything about the Cubs “curses”, so that was interesting! I love that you just write about stuff you like 🙂 Especially love the term “smart-assery.” hahaha. Anyway, thanks for contributing to my procrastination today by your inclusion of the “Levon” song, which is one of my favorites. Had to listen to that one 🙂

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    1. I think Cub fans needed to explain to themselves why their team never made the World Series, so they came up with all the “curses.” As a White Sox fan, the answer we always gave was “they suck!” That worked for both teams.

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  4. LOl great post once again. I, for one, am glad you have kept your writing to blog posts, they’re free. I might have to buy your books 🙂 I feel sorry for Bartman and Sosa was a baby. I’m glad they won because they beat my Giants so they should be the best in baseball for this year at least. They also took the curse of the even year off of our back so now we can win in odd numbered years as well. Happy Saturday!

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    1. Saw an article about Bartman: he says he’s thrilled that the Cubs won, and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Jason Kipnis, who is with the Indians, was a classmate of Steve’s, and said people have been much too hard on him.

      If Moises Alou had pitched a fit like that in Little League, the coach would pull him off the field and tell him to hand in his uniform. I can understand he thought he could catch the ball, but that reaction was uncalled for.

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  5. There is no time or word limit, so Linda is not going to kill you, although she may kill someone like you in a novel, but for completely different reasons, like adding baseball, oh no, wait, that’s me. LOL
    I enjoyed this post at length. I could see the direction your consciousness took and I did enjoy the ride. 🙂

    I will now hum Levon all day unless something else gets in there…

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    1. There’s no limit? I didn’t realize that.

      I thought it would be a good idea to at least acknowledge the end of the World Series, although, as a White Sox fan, I wanted the Indians to humiliate the Cubs. It’s a Chicago thing…

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  6. Nice job with this John. It’s hard to choose between “cheeseburger, cheeseburger” and Levon – two of my favs. I like your description of rewriting your NaNoWriMo work. It reminds me of a friend who said that he knew how to fix my old truck. He said: “jack up the radiator cap and pull a new truck under it and you’ll be all set.”

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  7. Well I found all that quite fascinating John, I love that the Cubs won the WS, it makes you think anything is possible and nothing is impossible…..I think we find the thing that we most want to write and if its a fun way to spend your time then great, we find time to do it again.

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    1. The Cubs could have won in ’69 if Leo Durocher hadn’t worn out his starters by running them out there every day, especially since lights to play night games were twenty years away at Wrigley. (They only put them in because they were told if they didn’t, they’d have to play at Busch Stadium in the postseason.) It wasn’t all Leo’s fault; there wasn’t much after you got past the starting eight position players, and the bullpen consisted of rejects from the rest of MLB. I’m surprised they got as close as they did that year.

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