"The Only Moment We Were Alone" by Explosions In the Sky
Seriously, though, if you talk about how there's been several Ultimate Warriors because the original one died, you're a fucking asshole.
My column proposal, Love Dumb: A Song-By-Song Analysis of the Nonsensical, Incompetent, Sophomoric, Confusing, Beautiful KISS Discography
, got accepted over at Used Furniture Review
. This, too, is fairly self-explanatory. I'll be analyzing two KISS songs every week for the next two years, at which point I will have dissected all of their songs and decided that I actually fucking hate them. I'm three songs in so far and aside from reinforcing the basics--Peter's not very good at drums, Paul's the weirdest straight gay dude ever--I've learned that I only like KISS when I don't have to think about them. If I'm just feeling the music, they're the best. The second I turn my brain on, they just turn into some mediocre Jews singing about their dicks.
In trying to come up with a name for the column, I called on my friends to help. My buddy Bob suggested, "Get a girlfriend."
Going back to pro wrestling, I'm considering proposing a column to Fear of a Ghost Planet
in which I take old wrestling PPVs and compare them based on the month and year in which they appeared. So, Hog Wild '96 (WCW) would go up against Summerslam '96 (WWF). Sure, it was the beginning of Hogan's first title run as a heel and it was the end of Vader's push in the WWF because Shawn Michaels was a real cunt back then, but what about he shows themselves? I'm curious as to which one is better to just put on and enjoy, free of nostalgia, (mostly) free of wrestling-nerd snobbery.
On the surface, these two columns appear to be way more niche than the stuff I normally write: short stories, book reviews, essays. Really, I think it's about the same. It's 2012 and I'm writing stuff that mostly appears on the internet, a place that already has millions of stuffs of all kinds and doesn't necessarily need any of mine.
In short, maybe I need a girlfriend.
"Look, I know I said 'redhead,' but I also said 'girlfriend.'"
I'm not sure why I've taken a sudden interest in writing a column, but I'm afraid it's because I'm running out of ideas. I'm not counting on my chapbook winning the Caketrain competition because they get a bunch of awesome submissions that are probably more geared toward their aesthetic, but they have to choose someone. (Every writer needs this attitude. No journal or zine or whatever exists without shit other people wrote. You could totally be other people. They have to choose someone.) So, on the extremely offhand chance that it wins the contest, I'm pretty much out of publishable material.
The more likely situation here is that it won't win, but I've already got some self-defeating bullshit for that, too. When it doesn't win, I'll shop the first half--the story cycle--around as a short, 20-page chapbook. That leaves the other three longform stories for another collection, which I would then set about finishing using a few older stories that need massive revision and a few newer ones that need to be written. Still, this is only maybe a year's worth of work. That's not a lot considering that I want to write for fucking ever.
So I'm a bit scared that I'm out of ideas. I haven't reached the point where I'm considering making some poor decisions just so I have some shit to write about, but I'm getting there. (A girlfriend? Come on. Desperate times . . .)
This is how I justified watching all of Party Down on YouTube last week. Just, you know, stirring creative juices or whatever.
"Fantasy is bullshit."
Shake Away These Constant Days
, my mostly-ignored debut short story collection, is now available for your e-reader. Get the Kindle version on Amazon
or, if you think Amazon is the devil, Smashwords
Also, in an attempt to maybe get some people to buy the book, I'm going completely backwards in terms of logic and giving away two copies. Head over to Goodreads and sign up for the Shake Away These Constant Days Giveaway
I'm selling a surprising number of books at the bar I work at. Drunk people love feeling smart. I did, however, have a better reaction to the ice cream I brought in and scooped for everyone. I knew my book couldn't compete against mint chocolate chip. Regardless, a busty girl named Floro took a picture of me scooping her an ice cream cone and texted it to her mother as a means of informing her of our inevitable marriage. We then discussed the finer points of the Aggro Crag from the Nickelodeon show Guts
Things are fine, everyone.
"Alcoholiday" by Teenage Fanclub, from their album Bandwagonesque, which is about as perfect a title as any album in the early 90's alt-pop-rock scene is going to have.
I spent a lot of time listening to Teenage Fanclub in 2007 and became convinced that four chords and nice harmonies were about the only necessities in life.
I've got Stories In the Worst Way by Gary Lutz out on inter-library loan and it's overdue. Do libraries still charge fees for overdue books? "Things happen when you are younger and have it in you to pinpoint your satisfactions." I wish I would have written that sentence.
There are going to be a lot of blog posts coming up in the next month or so. About thirty of them. The plan is to do one a day starting on the 25th of this month. Thirty days, thirty stories, thirty explanations. Because of that, I'll keep this short.
Textually short, that is. I'll still have plenty of semi-related photos and YouTube links.
My chapbook, Murmuration
, is almost done. I've got one story left to finish, and, with apologies to the band Police Teeth, it'll be called "Pyramid Scheme."
It's about rock & roll and being 25 and realizing that one of those things will win and one of those things will lose and that you won't be able to tell which one it was until it doesn't even matter anymore. After this, the book is done. I'll have some tweaking and revising to do to a couple of the stories, but I'm expecting to be able to send this thing out by the fall and recieve some rejections by winter and eventually get pissed and self-publish it by the spring.
Sam Snoek-Brown is on vacation right now and taking the entire collection. We're like the mortal enemies in comic books who need each other to exist. But we're pals, too, and I trust him to make some good edits/comments on my stuff because he's completely addicted to fiction. (He's pretty good at it sometimes, too. His newest prose poem up on the ridiculously-named online journal Visceral Uterus is called "Duel."
What a doozie.) Also, he recently turned an age I won't reveal, though I will say that he should be gearing up for some prostate exams.*
*Semi-official prostate exams.
In an attempt to keep my author brand fresh and interesting, I'm going to be branching out onto a few more social networking mediums. Never mind I don't really know what an "author brand" is ad that I just wanted to sound official.
So, I'm on Twitter now/again. Follow me.
RyanWerner and pretty much every variation--except possibly XxRyanWernerxX, but I'm not a goddamn dickhead, so I didn't even bother trying--were taken. So, @YeahWerner it is. Chelsea Peretti and I already shared a brief moment concerning cats and fingerless gloves. The internet is a wonderful place.
And I'm officially a Goodreads author. Become a fan of me and give my book five stars even if you don't mean it
. The page for the book, Shake Away These Constant Days
, is here
. It's not out yet but you can add it to your "to read" shelf and become a fan of me, of which I have two at the moment. At practice last night, our drummer replaced various lyrics of the song "Sara" by Jefferson Starship
with the title of the book, and I can't unhear it.
The first blurb for SATCD
has come in, and I'm already loving this whole idea of people I love and respect saying nice things about me for free. This one is by the incredible Sarah Rose Etter, author of Tongue Party
, one of the best short story chapbooks I've read in the past few years:"Each of the stories in Ryan Werner’s Shake Away These Constant Days ends with a sentence that’s a fist to the ribs. The collection builds into repeated shots to the soft part of your guts, a beautiful pummeling. By the end of Shake Away These Constant Days, you won’t even notice the bruises, the missing teeth, the pain. You’ll only want to go another round."
Of course my natural reaction to anyone complimenting me is to adamantly deny it, but I'm trying to be a better person. THank you, Sarah. May the Flyers win lots of hockey games I most likely won't watch.
Only one thing matters when I think of Philly.
I recently learned how to do laundry because my mom got headbutted by a horse. She was riding in South Dakota and a hailstorm spooked her horse, who, while being corralled into the trailer, flipped his shit and hit her in the face with his face. His face was significantly larger and harder. Tough break, ma.
She refuses to go to the hospital. I told her that her face is broken as fuck and she needs to go. She told me to mind my own business and then
bitched at me about a parking ticket I recently got. Then she made me lunch, because my mom is the best mom.
I'm still plugging the writing contest over at HAL Literature that is free to enter and comes with a sweet prize. Here are the details:
"The theme is open to interpretation and can center around China, the history of China, life in China, life after China, life without China, fortune cookies (which actually are not Chinese, but whatever, we don’t care, we are open to anything), grandma’s china plates, Chinese take-out, Shanghai, being shanghaied, stuff for sale at Target, trade deficits, foreign affairs, NAFTA, firecrackers or gunpowder, silk dresses, opium dens or railroads in the American wild west, the struggle of Chinese immigrants to the West, Richard Nixon, Chinatown, or any other conceivable application of the theme ”China.” We might not be ready to read Deadhead stories about China Cat Sunflower, but if that’s what you’ve got, send it in."
Three finalists will be chosen, with first place winner receiving
1) $50 USD, or the converted equivalent to US dollars at the time the award is made
2) publication in Shanghai at www.haliterature.com
3) One copy each of HAL’s Party like it’s 1984: stories from the people’s republic of; and Middle Kingdom Underground: stories from the people’s republic of, as well as a copy, upon publication, of HAL’s forthcoming book I Am Barbie by HAL author W.M. Butler.
4) winning story will be read live, in whole or in part, at a H.A.L. Lit event in Shanghai, China by a regular contributor to HAL residing in Shanghai at the time of the event. Alternately, the winner may travel at his or her expense to perform the piece in person, or send an audio or video recording of the piece along like a literary postcard of freedom and joy.
Second and third place winners will be published online by HAL.
Deadline for entry is September 15, 2012 at midnight Pacific Standard Time. Winners will be announced by October 15, 2012.GO.
Okay, that's it for me. Look for several upcoming book reviews on [PANK], including glowing praise of Sara Levine's Short Dark Oracles
and Gregory Sherl's Heavy Petting
"Back Off Evil" by Dirty Tricks off their self-titled debut from 1975.
I can't get enough of old psych-rock and heavy blues shit lately. As a bonus, it's always fun to fuck with Opeth fans by telling them I like Blackwater Park only to later reveal that I meant the German band
and not that stupid album
with the quiet parts that don't make sense next to the loud parts.
Writing-wise, I've made some progress on both the leg-work for the book and the writing-work for the chapbook. The first story for the chapbook--I mentioned it last week in a sideways way as "he's just wrecking cars with his buddies as of now"--is done. It's called "Jalapeno Summer" and it's a bit shy of a thousand words. It'll be a great story to kick off a collection with and it's a nice lead in to the next story, which starts off with the line, "My least favorite stripper was obsessed with past life regression."
Thanks to my friend Joan LaRosa for texting me a picture of her holding two dozen VIP passes for Club Silk in Milwaukee and getting me hooked on strippers again. Also, I get a stupid number of ideas and interesting things to add to a story just by listening to WTF with Marc Maron.
Thanks for being a drunken eccentric recluse, Laura Kightlinger.
When I said that I've made some progress on the leg-work for the book, I actually meant Mike Sweeney has made progress on the leg-work for the book. We had a pool of about 70 stories to chose from and less than half of them were going to be in the book. I told Mike the ones I liked, the ones I liked but needed work, and the ones I thought kind of sucked. He read all 70 of the stories--most of them for the second or third time, this time with a collection in mind--and sent me back a tentative table of contents and title that looks something like this:
This Is How Long a Second Lasts: 30 Stories
Back and to the Left
Look At How Fast I Can Go Nowhere At All
Wide Right Game
When There Is No Road
It's Been Far Too Long Since You Woke Up In Someone Else's Shoes
Monsters: A Series of Non-Chronological Vignettes
The Sounds of the Earth Precede Us
God as a Jigsaw
Follow the Water
What Burns Never Returns
Let’s Go Shoot Her While She’s Crying
Jests At Scars
Where Is Your H?
B Sharp, C Flat
Things That Are Glacial, Things That Are Gone
About a third of these are new stories that haven't appeared in the original Our Band Could Be Your Lit project, and most of those have never appeared anywhere before. This is definitely tentative, but I like the moves. Opening with "Back and to the Left" threw me a bit, but I can see it working, this sort of odd step into not an alternate universe, but an absurd one. The faux-time travel in "Sergei Avdeyev" solidifies that. It twists into the odd apocalyptic stories in the middle and then launches back into my standard storytelling before ending with "Glacial," my big abstract story that was half in response to the way I think kids write these days that ended up sounding pretty much exactly like how I write anyways. I wouldn't have thought of any of this myself, but I can see it now. Mike gets definite props for giving my work some vision, which it more than I can say for myself.
I'm not sold on the title, but that too is tentative. Mike's against the idea of making up a title specifically for the collection--my suggestion of I Scratched Your Name Behind the Jukebox was shot down for sounding too much like a title someone made up for a book, which I can't deny--and he really wants the title to come from the collection, either in the form of a story title or a line. We're leaning toward It's Been Far Too Long Since You Woke Up In Someone Else's Shoes which he's not sure of because of the length (and I'm not sure of because even though it's a literal thing with the shoes and the waking in the story, it sounds a little "my mom has this on a magnet on the fridge" as a stand-alone). Jests At Scars was brought up, but it's a line from Shakespeare and I totally can't pull that off. When There Is No Road was a possibility, too, but I've got a story/collection in the works called The Road Become What You Leave. (Stolen from the name of a documentary on Magnolia Electric Co. Which reminds me, I need to e-mail and get permission to do that.) I'm kind of at a loss for ideas.
Above: The cover of my book, Led Zeppelin 4.
Whatever. I'm working on it.
I'm glad I got to start reading some more, too, now that shipping out CDs has slowed down. Sara Levine's Short Dark Oracles
just rocked my goddamn world. I ordered the six-pack from Caketrain
for $32 (shipped!) and this is the winner. I did not like the MFA Mad Lib style of Take Care Fake Bear Torque Cake
by Heidi Lynn Staples or Cure All
by Kim Parko. I think Ben Mirov's Ghost Machine
is interesting enough and it's fun to try to interpret it, but in the end I thought it was several hundred beautiful sentences that didn't do anything. The Weather Stations
by Ryan Call was solid and inventive, which is what I'll also say about Tongue Party
by Sarah Rose Etter, except Etter's book is fucking creepy.
But Short Dark Oracles
. Man. There's a lot of dialogue, which really adds a cinematic quality, but there are still enough moments that can only happen in a short story that make me truly believe that the book is operating on it's most pure level, that it aspires to be nothing but literature. There aren't any gimmicks or tricks here. The turns aren't twists, and when it gets to the point where the story rounds the corner, it actually rounds it. No need to twirl. It's enough to get there, and Levine took me there.
In short, I'm glad I found another talented writer to resent for all of their skill and success.UNLESS YOU DONATE TO THE KICKSTARTER FOR MY BOOK AND THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE JERSEY DEVIL PRESS 2012 COLLECTION. THEN YOU'RE COOL AS FUCK, DUDE.
Okay. Be a real person.