The Loser’s Lounge

If you’re going to be in New York on June 15th, 16th or 17th, go here now and buy tickets for the Loser’s Lounge Tribute to ABBA. I mean it. Do it now before tickets sell out. You’ll thank for the rest of your life for insisting, it’s that good.

Are you still here??? Go get those tickets. It’s the most fun and entertaining musical thing in New York. You’ll be dancing on the table tops, even if you’re not a dancing on the table tops kind of person. By the end of the night you will be.

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Writing Begins and Birthday Countdown

I’ve done everything I wanted to do before beginning to write this book. I’ve still got tons of research to do, but it’s all the kind of research that needs to be done as I write.

It’s always a little scary, beginning. But exhilarating. I feel completely ready and absolutely the right person of all the people alive to write this book. A group of people came together from around the country to Duke University, driven to answer questions that science would barely acknowledge as legitimate questions. For a time the Parapsychology Lab was on intellectual fire — it was the place at Duke to meet interesting people and it was one of the most popular places on campus among the students. But for the scientists there, it was was also a battleground. While they tried to understand their findings, it was one fight after another, getting their peers to accepts the results of their experiments. And the whole world watched. Books that came out of the lab were best sellers and that made scientists outside the lab NUTS. They had trouble getting grad students to work on their research because no one could compete with the charismatic Rhine and the kinds of questions being asked over on the second floor of the West Duke Building.

I’m going to begin in Boston, with a woman who claimed to be able to talk to the dead. She was investigated by Harvard, people from Scientific American, and then by J.B. and Louie (his wife) Rhine. All hell broke loose. The Rhines knew how to make an entrance!

AND — and I know I’m making such a big deal about this — this week is also the count down to my birthday, which is on Saturday. Everyday this week I am going to try to do something pampering for myself, and, as per a suggestion from someone I knew in high school — everyday I will also try to do something I’ve never done before.

It’s a big deal week for me! Wish me luck!

Blogging My Day

2:13PM

It’s a gorgeous holiday weekend, but I’m not holidaying much today. I’ll feel better if I get things done. I’m missing a picnic with my drumming friends, but I’m going to see them all soon at a few drumming events.

So far today:

– Updated The Restless Sleep blog so I don’t have to tomorrow.
– Emailed the contact for Bill Roll about what to read. (One of the Duke guys.)
– Worked out at the Carmine Street gym (which is actually on Clarkson and is now called something else).
– Emailed Det. Tozzi’s relatives. He was the Nassau County detective who investigated the poltergeist with Gaither Pratt and Bill Roll in 1958.
– Listening to more of the tapes made 30 years ago of the Duke scientists, while I do all my need-to-be-hand-laundered laundry. Two tapes down today, five more to go and I’m done!

3:55PM

– Hand-laundry done.
– Nice email exchange with Joe Tozzi’s daughter.
– Me and Finn listen to tapes. Rhine is venting to the historians, because he doesn’t agree with their representation of him. Four more tapes to go.

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4:34PM

– My friend Liz was in a car accident! She’s okay though, and she went on to LI.
– The Rhines are really letting the historians have it now. (The historians, by the way, did an astounding job. The Rhines didn’t like the book at first, but after some time they decided that the historians had done a good job after all.)
– Another friend, Janet, gets a new puppy, Lily, who sleeps on top of her other dog, Tuscany. I’m trying to beat Just a Little Guy and Cuteoverload to the punch. I mean, come on. Look at how cute these guys are.

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5:42PM

– Very boring dinner eaten (broccoli, cottage cheese, bread).
– Cats fed.
– On Echo, my friend Joe gets mad because I never laugh at his jokes, only Howard’s.
– Three tapes to go.

I know this is boring. I’m sorry. I’m entertaining myself while I listen to these tapes, and it gives me a sense of progress. I’m also looking at kittens who are up for adoption on the Animal Care and Control website.

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6:13PM

– Told my friend Joe that I was mocking him here and it took him 15 minutes to find the address of my blog. Joe is search-challenged, poor thing.

Here’s Joe. We met when we were grad students at NYU. He works at Stanford University now.

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6:56PM

– I’m on the second to last tape now. I don’t think I can take much more of this.
– I’m half listening, and half reading about the Spook Light in Hornet, Missouri. I read about this when I was down at Duke, and wanted to go there and do a piece about it for NPR. Alas, they thought about it, but decided to pass. It’s such an interesting unsolved mystery. The Army Corp of Engineers looked into it and couldn’t figure out what it was. They called it a “mysterious light of unknown origin,” and gave up!

Here’s an old picture of the Spook Light.

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Here’s a picture of the Spook Light Museum. It’s gone now, I believe. Someday, I want to go to Missouri and re-open the museum. Doesn’t it sound like a fun, end-of-life occupation? I want to see the Spook Light!

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7:58PM

– Officially going out of my mind with these tapes.
– Cats fed their evening snack.
– More email answered.

I’m going downstairs to photograph the sunset from my street. There’s supposed to be a spectacular sunset because of how the sun is lining up with the east/west blocks.

8:11PM

– Seeing two fighter jets in the sky. Is it still Fleet Week, or should I be grabbing my “go” bag?

8:34PM

My view of the sunset was blocked by trees. That’s a good thing, I think. Plenty of other views of the sun.

Looking West on Perry Street:

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Looking East:

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8:57PM

– Last tape started, it’s an interview with B. F. Skinner this time. He’s kind of a dick when it comes to Rhine. He sounds very smart, but also SO smug. I want to reach across time and smack him. When I was in college everyone repeated a rumor about Skinner raising one of his children in a box, (he was famous for something that was later referred to as a Skinner Box, which he used for animal studies) but it was completely untrue, I’ve read online. Still, he doesn’t seem very warm or generous.

9:29PM

– Just read that Skinner lived in the Village for a year (that’s where I live) and wanted to write fiction. Reading his bio on Wikipedia. Well, dick-ishness aside, a very interesting life. He died in 1990.

– DONE. I’M DONE. And now my holiday resumes. I will stop boring my friends now. Who are probably not actually reading this, thank GOD.

– Oh fuck. Missed one.

Yesterday Was Movie Day

In the morning I saw Over the Hedge with Jonathan. It was okay, I love Steve Carell, and apparently even the sound of his voice is entertaining.

And in the afternoon I saw Poseidon at the IMAX theatre with Jim and Cori. That was a lot of fun. I think it was mostly due to the IMAX experience, it’s hard to say for sure how good the movie really is, but still. This is what holiday movies are about. This is me and Cori behind Lincoln Center, waiting for the movie to begin. There are lots of nice spots to sit all around Lincoln Center, although I do miss sitting inside. But the opera and the ballet are SO expensive. (Later, we had dinner at Tartine, which was fabulous. It’s only a couple of blocks from me, on the corner of West 4th and 11th, it’s delicious and reasonable.)

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Lunch with Sue and Josh

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Not only have they not aged but Josh seems to be going backwards. This is Sue (Grady) Fitzsimmons and Josh Chu aka Slacker. They used to work for Echo, and back when Echo was run out of my apartment.

Here’s an old picture that shows what a wreck my place was while that was going on. Sue sat at the desk to the left, I sat at the desk to the right (Josh sat on the couch). Modems were piled on the shelves, computers under the desks, and wires all over the place.

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Sue, if you scroll down to May 18th, you’ll see what it looks like now. I got rid of the desk. It’s still a little cluttered because I’ve got books, tapes, and boxes of papers from Duke piled around. You’ll appreciate this – I had the air conditioner taken away and overhauled and cleaned. The pigeons still use it for a home, apparently.

In any case, Sue and Josh, it was great to see you again! You both look gorgeous. Lunch was fun!