Henry Kissinger, The Fuck-Up, and the Accelerated Dragon – Today Was a Good Day

Yesterday was a good day. I didn’t read any newspapers. Who cares about Greece. Who cares about all of Europe for that matter. Or unrest in China. I certainly don’t care. Did Obama do anything? Who cares? There’s news about some Congressman but for what and for who and why? Sometimes the fight is wearing on me. Its nice to have a good day, the sound of decades of pain fading to a lull in the background.

And my google alerts for “Bristol Palin” didn’t pop up anything new. I want the old Bristol back. The real one. The slutty one.

I didn’t look at any bad comments about me. The hordes of anonymous people who somehow think that if I were to just die or shut up then their own lives would have more love in it. Maybe they’re right. Maybe their loneliness is inextricably linked to my being alive. But yesterday I took a break from them. They are a bad leak for me. Stay away from people who mean you harm, even the slightest anonymous harm is too much to handle.

I posted an article I was very happy with. I think the writing was good. I tend to be very self-critical so that’s somewhat rare. Someone wrote me it was too dark. But life is dark. We survive by seeking out through perilous adventures the light that is always there, that never really left us.

I had my second chess lesson with a young guy whose mother had written me a few weeks earlier. Apparently he had read an article I either wrote or was written about me about how I don’t think kids should go to college. So he wasn’t going to go to college. I got the vague impression (but could be completely wrong) she wasn’t happy about this so I felt guilty at first and said, “i’ll take chess lessons from him!” and I’m glad I said that.

I’ve been meaning for about ten years to sharpen up my chess again. So we met for two hours. It was fun. Went through variations in the Kings Indian Defense (“the KID”), the Modern defense, the hedge hog, the accelerated dragon, and even threw some Benko Gambit in there. I had a fun time. My new instructor is the #1 ranked 18 year old in the country. It was a pleasure to go through all the variations and see someone speak with such deep intuition about each one. I’ve been playing chess seriously now for 25 years and he was much better than me. Probably much better than I’ll ever be. He was polite and said I was strong enough to get right back into tournaments. But I know I need a year of study before that’s the case.

The last time I played in a tournament was in 1997 when I was crushed by a little 13 year old girl prodigy with the very appropriate name of Irina Krush. She then tried to explain to me where I went wrong (that “bishop move on move 9”) but I could barely pay attention to her I was so upset. I felt at the time like hammering a nail into her hand that made the winning move but you just don’t do that to little girls. Now she’s one of the best women players in the world.

Then I went off to meet Art Nersesian, one of my all-time favorite novelists. Art has a crazy look. He’s 52 years old and has a shock of thick whitish-black hair that goes in every direction. He looks like a novelist and stands out in a crowd. His first book, “The Fuck-up” was a cult classic about a guy who is down on his luck so pretends to be gay to work as an usher in a gay porn theater. Things go down from there until catharsis on the last page. Beautiful book and sold hundreds of thousands of copies in its day. Arthur is the godfather of my youngest kid.

Arthur told me a funny story. John Hughes, the guy who compelled me to love Ally Sheedy because of his movie, “The Breakfast Club”, had once bought the option to the rights of “The Fuck Up”, Hughes had a development deal with Disney at the time. So Arthur got this boiler-plate contract from Disney with various blanks filled in with the title of his book. There were lines in the contract like, “Disneyworld has the exclusive right to name any character ‘The Fuck-Up’ “. “Space Mountain has exclusive rights to use characters called “The Fuck Up’ “ , “Disney can make dolls based on a character called ‘The Fuck Up’ “, etc.


So did some lawyer actually send that contract out from Disney? Was Disney actually contemplating naming a character in Disneyworld “The Fuck Up”? Of course not. Its just a constant reminder of the simmering mediocrity that exists everywhere. You can only laugh at it. The war is being fought by an army of sycophants and lonely paralegals who just want to finish the 9-5 and go home and watch TV and sleep until it begins again. And somehow, most of us are losing the war against these people.

Arthur is trying to figure out his next steps. He’s written about ten amazing novels. Each one better than the last. I don’t know if he would like me saying this but he lives in squalor. He’s a true modern poet who just wants to break out but is afraid the writing world has passed him by despite his talent, his successes, and his love for the field. I gave him my advice while we shared a bag of popcorn. A half a bag of popcorn is about what the advice was worth.

After Arthur, I went to give a talk at “Founders @ Fail” organized by Schuyler Brown. There were about 150 people there. I used my magic technique of slightly slurring my words while I spoke. It hypnotizes my brain into thinking its drunk so I can say anything, do anything, and not care about the consequences. People were laughing for ninety minutes. I don’t know if anyone learned anything. I said things like “get your customers girlfriends”. I also told them about how some guy in some bar in Kansas City wrote me that he would “stick a baseball bat up my ass” because of one of my opinions. Not sure that helps anyone. I met a lot of interesting people afterwards.

After the talk Tim Sykes tried to convince Claudia I should be selling my book instead of giving it away for free. “James is giving valuable stuff here. He cheapens himself.” But that’s ok. I really am a cheap guy and I don’t really place much value on anyone else’s words so why should I treat myself any differently.

Today I have lunch with Henry Kissinger. I don’t really know how the hell that happened. It was a random email I got. Do you want to have lunch with Henry Kissinger?, it said. I don’t really want to go. Who am I going to talk to? And I don’t own a suit or a tie. My jacket is like a windbreaker. I am wearing the same pants and t-shirt I wore yesterday while I was sweating during my 90 minute talk.


When I was 12 years old I had a paperback book “The Adventures of Super Kraut” and it was about all the women the former Secretary of State (and somewhat nerdy looking, heavily accented, etc) had presumably had intimate relations with. Zsa Zsa Gabor, if I remember correctly, was featured prominently. Did I ever masturbate after reading the book? That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked. I can’t even remember. Too bad I still don’t have that book. I could get him to sign it. Man, that would be funny.

So I’m going to go. You never know if it could be something fun to write about. I gave up therapy for the week just so I could have lunch with Super-Kraut. That seems like the sort of thing one should do. I’ll let you know how it goes.

[Update: during the lunch Jon Huntsman mentioned that he was announcing he was going to officially announce his run for the Presidency one week from today. He hadn’t previously said he would be running so I guess this was news.]

p.s. some people thought my post from yesterday was a bit too dark. But SEE! I can make a lighter post. Like this one. Dr. Henry Kissinger completely escalated the war in Vietnam without having an exit strategy at all. And he got to kiss the young Zsa Zsa Gabor! Life can be good.

p.p.s. I need an intern who will work for free, work really hard for about a month or two straight, help me translate a book from 1834 English into 2010 English and do some research something completely non-finance related. There’s no pay and there name will not appear anywhere (well, ok, the  acknowledgements page) in the book that results from this.


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