The Afghan Whigs performing "66" on Conan O'Brien's show back in 1999. Dulli breaks a string!
I dressed up as the Wal-Mart Santa this past weekend and scared the fuck out of some kids. Dr. Pepper/7-Up bought the rights to Santa (in Wal-Mart), so on either side of the bench I sit on is a stack of about 50-70 two-liters of 7-Up. In addition to mini candy canes, I also gave the kids cans of soda. It was all really fucked.
Of course, this happened, too.
Look at how shitty I look as Santa and then think about the fact that the person who was dressing up as Santa before me is female, stands (literally) around four feet tall, has the mental development of an 8-10 year old child, and kept pulling off her beard to take drinks of water, which would have been fine, except she "was too hot" and "about to pass out" with the beard on, so she just left it hanging from her one ear, including during pictures with the kids.
She also decided it was necessary to wear no pants underneath the Santa pants that are designed to go over the pants you're already wearing. Then she informed me that she "got really sweaty" in the suit. I realize that this has an effect on nobody except me, but come on. Goddamn.
Her intentions were top notch, but none of her physical or mental attributes really helped in the way of keeping the spirit of Christmas. You'd think that with all the fat dudes we have working and frequenting our store that we'd be able to rope someone into doing it, but that was apparently impossible. They all claimed to be bad with kids.
How to Be Santa
1) Don't molest the kid. This is a good rule even when not dressed up as Santa.
2) Ask the kid if they've been good this year and believe whatever they say because who gives a shit.
3) If the kid has a brother or sister with them, ask them who's been the baddest. If they don't have a brother or sister with them, ask their parents. If the mom is kind of hot and the dad isn't around, ask if she's been naughty, because Santa does that on stupid sitcoms and everyone's seen Bad Santa and she'll think it's funny. See if you can ask for a "snowjob" without the kid hearing.
4) Ask the kid what they want for Christmas and tell them you'll get it for them for sure. You are not their parents and this is not your responsibility.
4b) If someone asks for a kidney for medical purposes, just be really nice and tell them you'll try. If they ask for a kidney for weirdo shit, just tell them to fuck off.
5) Ask the kid if they like to play in the snow. Some kids will be a bit gunshy, but, ultimately, kids are fucking dumb, so you can really ask them anything and they'll just answer with whatever the fuck they feel like. Ask them about quantum physics or something. I bet they'll answer with a story about a time they saw a really big dog.
All in all, I'm a really awesome Santa. And you can too.
Tis the season to suck it.
Right as I was complaining that I haven't had any work accepted in a long-ass time, I look like a dickhead by getting three acceptances in about a week.
My story "Reruns" (the second story in my cycle/chapbook Murmuration
) went up at Monkeybicycle. This is a big deal because Monkeybicycle is excellent, and them having faith in my story kind of gives me a little faith in my story. This one is secretly dedicated to my friend Jon Eagle, who loves television shows more than anyone I've ever met."I listened to my family name off local dead people and soon enough began to wish i was one of them."
The other stories that got accepted aren't up yet. One of them is "Pyramid Scheme" (the fourth story in Murmuration
). I'm stoked about this going up (at Bartleby Snopes!) for the same reason as "Reruns." That one's about a band called the Honeybreakers, reprising the role they played in my story "Sometimes We Were Young." (My friend Sam Snoek-Brown
and I do this stupid thing where every story we write is connected to at least one other story we've written. It's pointless and nobody wins, but if they did, I'd be winning.) I'm working with the crew on some edits right now and even the butting-heads that we're doing on a couple spots have gone way too smoothly. The changes they suggested that I ended up taking helped the story immensely, and, as I had thought, the parts I've always been uneasy with have disappeared.
That leaves only one story for the collection unpublished, the stripper story "Cool Tits, Moxie." I've got that out at a few places now, and if none of them pick it up, I'm fine with it going unpublished. Leaves a bit of incentive for buying the book, I guess. I'll probably end up putting it out myself because I'm too lazy to send it off to publishers, but that's fine.
The other story is called "Trace," going up at 10,000 Tons of Black Ink. I've talked about that stupid asshole story on here before as being a revising nightmare. I actually even revised it after sending it off, because that's what nightmares are for. I'm wondering if I can actually broach the subject of having 10KTOBI publish the revised version without pissing them off. I'm totally going to try.
I've also gotta remember to make a stupid 10,000 Maniacs joke in my next e-mail to them.
I added some friends to the (Has Friends) page. Justin Lawrence Daugherty is a fucking incredible writer who I can guarantee you will hear more from/about very soon. He takes myths and turns them into realistic stories of the absurd. Matthew Burnside is another wizard working with myth and sorrow, one who I didn't even realize until today that I've known for years and years from a guitar forum we both frequent. (Or used to frequent, in my case, as I was perma-banned years ago for several different things, one of which included posting under the name CC DeVilled Eggs and ruining every thread with pictures of Poison's CC DeVille.) Mary Miller wrote two of my favorite books in recent memory, the full-length Big World
and the chapbook Less Shiny
and I'm kind of in love with her. Check these wonderful people out.
While you're checking things out, go to the website for the micro-press I've started for Passenger Side Books and consider sending me a manuscript. I've got some good work so far and look forward to reading more of it. Let's make books, people.
My (Is Published) page and my (Has Friends) page have both been retooled to be more readable. So read them.
Also, I appeared on a podcast being hosted by my tight bros in the band Victory & Associates. It's called You Can't Stop the Signal
and is a must-listen for anyone who's into podcasts or has been in a band or likes talking about ASCII-styled dicks or thinks I'd be a good guy to talk to on the phone for a half hour. They play a bunch of killer angular indie rock and roll, too, so do everyone a favor and listen.
Oh yeah. And this:
Seasons beatings, y'all.
"Tables Turn" by Decibully, from their album City of Festivals. Wisconsin, motherfuckers!
Naming songs is easy because I write stupid songs. If I want to call a song "Fake Tits (Real Problems)" I totally can. "Release the Grease" is a go. "Ready, Set, Get Wet" is a must. As long as it's about having sex or drugs or just generally being rad, I can just ramble on about whatever.
My song "Shiksas Are For Practice," about finding love despite the objections of old Jewish ideas, is still in the works.
That's why I'm having a fuck of a time naming this book. We went through and looked at the the story title first, because that's the easiest way to go about things. Most of my favorite short story collections are named that way, too, so it's not like I could have any sort of pretensions about not coming up with a new title for the whole thing. So when none of the titles looked like a good representation of the book as a whole, I was pretty much fucked.
So I had to read my book again. It's a good book. I'm happy with how it's turning out. But I was pretty sick of myself by the time I had to read it for the third time in a week. I had already read it for sequencing purposes and again for typos and grammatical issues. And now once more to see if a title was buried somewhere in the text? I'm dumb.
I came up with a long list of shit from the text that stood out, none of which I was particularly blown away by upon review.All At Once It Becomes Important
(From "Sergei Avdeyev." Not a bad title, but I don't want people to think I'm bragging. If I went with this, I might as well include a free video download of me singing "I'm the Man" by Anthrax and flexing.)Only the Black of the Birds
(From "Plots." It's good, but not for this collection. Maybe I'll write something about crows someday, but probably not, since I only passed my college zoology class because I cheated on all those tests with the stupid Scantron sheets.)The Band Has Been Around Too Long
(From "When There Is No Road." Because we've decided not to pitch this as an OBCBYL book, it's probably best to back off on any music-related title. Plus I didn't want Gene Simmons to sue me.)An Old Television Turned Off And Then Back On Quickly
(From "When There Is No Road." It's fucking dumb, that's why.)And the Way They Swing Around
(From "It's Been Far Too Long Since You Woke Up In Someone Else's Shoes." This one's just not very good, is it? Too vague--they?--and a bit stuffy with that "and" at the beginning. IBFTLSYWUISES was considered as a title, too. Not as an abbreviation, but look at that abbreviation. If that's the short way to write your book's title, you're an asshole.)Climbing Toward the Sun
(From "Haunt." It was originally about tendrils or vines or whatever, which makes sense. I just can't bring myself to go with any title that could be turned into that of a self-help book by adding "MAKING YOUR LIFE THE BEST LIFE" in the sub-heading.)How I've Earned My Darkness
(From "After I Threw the Ball At Thomas Hernandez and Before It Killed Him." Sounds like the title of a self-published memoir.)Whatever You Do
(From I can't remember because it's so generic, and I refuse to go back and check the word doc. Who cares?)Seven As A Threat
(From "Follow the Water." I must have been tired when I pulled this.)Long Enough Will Be Long Enough
(From "Follow the Water." Or maybe not too tired, because this one I like. But I'm a bit torn on it. It sounds a bit like a simple truth and a bit like something my mom would have on a magnet on the fridge.)Bite Off Your Tongue and Tell Me
(From "Follow the Water." This is a paraphrase of the end of the story, and while it sounds cool, it might be a bit too hard for what the book is doing. I do a lot of soft endings, so maybe this stood out for being considerably less soft. And I don't want to give away my punchlines.)With Suddenness
(Again, no idea what the fuck I was thinking.)Distortion
(Yep, really grasping here. I think this is from "Signal" but I have no idea. It doesn't matter. We're not going with it.)Pure Smoke
(From "Refund." This is one of the few later ones I really liked. The word that keeps coming up when I think about the themes of the collection is "ephemerality." I think Pure Smoke
has that built into it, plus it's punchy. Still, it didn't grab me by the collar and tell me it was the title, so onto the burner it goes.)I Imagine A Few Moments From Now
(This could be from any of the stories, really. No clue.)You Can Be Twenty Things
(From "Refund." Another paraphrase, this time from dialogue. I was definitely barely awake when pulling this aside.)You Think of Breathing Out
(From "Things That Are Glacial, Things That Are Gone." I don't mind this one, but it's nothing special. I almost like the title of the story better for the collection title.)
Somewhere in the middle of all this bullshit, I came up with a couple titles that weren't from the text.Shake Away These Constant Days
andEvery Day A Juggernaut
After all that deliberation to find something from the text, the two I like the best aren't even from it. "Shake" and "juggernaut" are two of my favorite words--I had planned a solo album years ago called Shake
that never happened (the cover was going to be me in the pose from Electric Warrior
) and "Juggernaut" is my favorite Rick Bass story.I e-mailed all of this (sans commentary) to Mike at JDP and he once again told me to settle down, that we've reached the point of diminishing returns on new titles, and that we should pick from what we have. This is sound advice, somewhat, which I wouldn't say if I wasn't already partially in love with Shake Away These Constant Days
. Barring a rejection from JDP fearless-leader Eirik, that's going to be the title of the book.
What a long, drawn-out process of explanation for no reason.
And that's the Rickey Henderson biiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!
On the chapbook front--the title of that is going to be Murmuration--I'm about halfway through the second story. It's called "Cool Tits, Moxie" which I'm excited for because writing about strippers is always fun and I haven't used "tits" in a story title since I was in third grade. My band starts recording our first EP and second full length today, so time will now officially be split between writing and rocking, not that I'm trying especially hard at either one.
Be cool, baby.
"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.