Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chess Ideologies: Midgame Strategies

Part One: The Elements

This is a screen grab of a computer record from the card catalogue of our local library system. I have a little story about those top two missing copies:

It’s a famous rock and roll book, “No One Here Gets Out Alive,” about the group called The Doors, and about their lead singer and co-founder Jim Morrison. The Doors are sometimes considered sort of the prototypical Los Angeles band from the 60s, as opposed to the more gentle, sort of, bands from San Francisco.

The book is really interesting and fun to read, but many fans feel that the band’s keyboard player and co-founder Ray Manzarek prevailed upon the authors to cut out a lot of what fans call “good parts”—usually that would mean things about Jim Morrison acting crazy. That may have happened, but the book includes enough “good parts” to be interesting. (FYI, some of the “good parts” involve Jim Morrison hanging out and acting obnoxious with the British actor Tom Baker during Baker’s young and wild years and Baker would later marry, briefly, the most beautiful OpheliaThe Prettiest Ophelia Is An Asteroid.)

Anyway, a few days ago I wanted to re-read this book because if I remember right the book contains an anecdote—an anecdote that may or my not be true, of course, this is a rock book—about Morrison and his girlfriend walking home from some club, totally wasted, and she wants to hitch-hike but Morrison insists on walking up the hill to their apartment by themselves rather than getting a ride.

It’s just a little bit of business and it’s so Sisyphus-like that you’ve got to suspect it may have been fabricated, but it is one of my favorite rock (so to speak) stories. Morrison and his girlfriend, completely wasted, but nonetheless Morrison insisting on walking up the hill rather than catching a ride.

From my computer I checked the card catalogue of our local libraries and the card catalogue showed the book on-shelf everywhere. In fact, at one library near here the card catalogue showed that they had two copies and both were listed as on-shelf.

So I figured, cool, even if the computer’s wrong and one copy is missing—books about interesting people in the arts almost always get stolen from libraries—they have two copies so I should be able to find one.

I drove over there, checked the shelf and couldn’t find any copy.

So I asked the very friendly librarian for help and she checked their database and discovered that both copies hadn’t been checked out for something like four years.

“That usually means they’ve been taken,” she said.

I just nodded. I’d heard that before. I have terrible luck getting books from libraries. (And apparently libraries can’t discover books are missing until I try to take them out. Technology is so complicated, I guess.)

The librarian and I returned to the shelf and looked over everything again, together, but both books were gone.

She thanked me, though.

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention!” she said, cheerfully. “I’ll update our computer so nobody else tries to take out the books.”

Good for them, I thought. Glad I could help sort out your inventory issues.

I didn’t feel like actually buying myself a copy from Amazon. And I didn’t want to drive over to another library.

So I just scratched off the idea of writing anything about the story of Jim Morrison and his girlfriend, totally wasted, struggling to walk up a hill rather than hitch-hike.

Part Two: Positional Play

Yesterday I did a post about, in part, Lucy Westenra from “Dracula”—Lucy, Lucy, Lucy (Or: Story Choices).

She’s one of my favorite literary characters of all time.

Late yesterday I was going to do another post—for today—about Lucy.

I reached over to the bookcase next to my keyboard workstation and, without looking, grabbed for my copy of “Dracula.” When I pulled out the book and looked at it I saw that I had missed, and grabbed the wrong book. I had pulled out a copy of Eugene O’Neill’s play “Long Day’s Journey into Night.”

Even with a cool title like that, “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” it’s not a story about vampires. At least, not real vampires. Well, you know, I mean, not about monster vampires.

It’s a Pulitzer Prize winning play. It all takes place over the course of one day—literally a long day’s journey into a night—and for the most part it’s an essentially pointless story about essentially pointless people. They are, in their own ways, reasonably tender and nice people, in their own ways, but they are all for the most part pointless people.

I don’t remember exactly why any more, but in high school my friends and I put on a production of “Long Day’s Journey into Night” for a literature class and we got very good grades and our beautiful teacher—a red-haired woman poet named “Linda”—singled out our casting choice of playing against type: My youngish-looking cheerful friend played the older brother, Jamie (James Jr., named after his father in the play), and I played the sick young brother, Edmund. (At our local library I later met a young woman named “Jamie” and she always made me smile, because she was cheerful and cool, and the guy “Jamie” in the play is, well, not exactly cheerful and not exactly cool. I once did a song about the library “Jamie”—Quasi Una Atomic Octopus Fantasia.)

Anyway, in the big climax of the play, all the characters are sitting around—the long day has turned into night—and all the characters are totally wasted. They’re all either drunk or whacked on morphine and Edmund is pretty sick, too, and they’re all wretched and wasted, also, from a lifetime of worrying about each other and worrying about themselves.

Like I said, not real vampires but the characters, and Eugene O’Neill himself, could stand up well as metaphors.

Anyway, again, in the big climax of the play all these characters are sitting around being morose and their mother who had once considered becoming either a pianist or a nun [!] plays a little Chopin offstage and then comes into the room. The drunk old brother says—the stage directions read ‘sardonic’—

“The Mad Scene. Enter Ophelia!”

The drunk and sick young brother slaps his older brother across the face.

That’s pretty much the action of the play.

The mother—whacked on morphine—has a flashback to her school days and her thoughts of becoming a nun. She describes how an old nun suggested she think about it for a while, live a little, enjoy the normal life of a young girl for a while, before committing herself to the church. The mother has the last lines, a brief soliloquy—

“That was in the winter of senior year. Then in the spring something happened to me. Yes, I remember. I fell in love with James Tyrone and was so happy for a time.”

That’s the end of the play, and the curtain comes down.

Part Three: Illustrative Games

It’s easy to laugh
at the idiot hippies
lost in the 60s

but they made music
and they wrote lyrics for songs
and somehow managed

technology too
so although they were wasted
threw themselves away

like pointless people
sucking on each other’s blood
in a drawing room

when hippies were gone
just like everybody else
the good things they did

didn’t disappear
and we have cool music now
I mean here at night.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chess Ideologies

The Persistence Of Rocks

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