Has it really been four months already? Here's some shit.
1) The job I spoke about previously as being a possibility, barring background checks and whathaveyou, totally happened. Now I spend five days a week telling four-year-olds about wrestling and Ozzy.
1b) I acted like I only tolerated it at first, but it's really awesome. I wore an Anthrax shirt in my school pictures, because time won't change for me and vice-versa.
1c) My phone is a veritable cesspool of adorable pictures of kids helping me cook lunch. I'm worse than a grandmother.
2) I got the NUMBER ONE HIGH SCORE on the South Park pinball machine at the bar. Suck it, automated high scores that come pre-loaded onto the machine.
3) I've been watching a lot of wrestling. I realized there's a lot of stuff from right before the Attitude Era that I haven't seen all the way through. Here's to Survivor Series '96 and The Rock looking like a Ribbon Dancer tried to fuck a pineapple.
4) I started a band and joined another one, bringing the count to an unnecessary, over-committed FIVE BANDS.
4b) This is much less impressive when you consider that, much like other prolific songwriters--not that I'm really one of them--of previous and current times, I really only write three or four different kinds of songs. I just sort of change the nuances a bit to fit what I'm doing, because I'm a liar, essentially.
5) My friend Kylie and her friend Matt (who is kind of my friend, too, though I barely know him) made a documentary about me. It's just called Werner and it's about twelve minutes long, which is all it takes to sum up my life, including gag reel.
5b) It's actually a really well-made documentary, and Kylie and Matt did a great job. I was worried I'd look like I was too serious or too much of a joke, but she blended it well. Better than I do in my life, at least.
5c) It'll be available to watch online sometime in the near future once all the paperwork and red-tape of whatever goes along with these sorts of projects is cleared. They're film students and this was for a class, so I'm not sure exactly what needs to all happen. Other than CGI enhancements of my abs.
6) I saw Charles Bradley play a show in Madison and it was pretty incredible. I still need to see the documentary about him.
6b) I missed Lee Fields the month before, though. Only so much soul I can handle, apparently.
7) I downloaded Snapchat and don't understand it. Why wouldn't you just text someone? On the bright side, I wish all selfies had a built-in disappearing point.
8) My computer died. Just flat-out fucking ate shit. Luckily, I have most of my important stuff--music, wrestling, writing, porn--on an external hard drive. The stuff I deserve to get bummed about losing is some writing and pictures. Everything else was pirated. Even I'm not delusional enough to think I had a right to that.
8b) David Atkinson is a beautiful man with a heart of gold, and he hooked me up with a replacement right quick. Buy him cigarettes and coffee and build a statue of his out of a meat of your choice. Then feed it to a homeless person, because the world needs more people paying it forward.
9) I got a hat that says BOOB POLICE on it for Christmas. Happy birthday, Jesus.
10) I became an uncle. My brother and his girlfriend had a kid and named it Maddux, which is a cool name spelled in a fucking dickhead way.
10b) My brother spells his name "Nikolas" with no "c" in it, so whatever. Hereditary, I guess. I'm just glad I'm not "Ryen" or some shit.
Writing-wise, I'm doing better than I was when I last checked in. I've written six stories since then and five of them have been picked up. The sixth one is a really bad retelling of a Kenny Loggins song about Winnie the Pooh that Matt Burnside suggested I write about for Cloud Rodeo, and I never submitted it because in addition to being mind-numbingly shitty, I lost it in the computer crash. If I need to find it, I'm sure it's in an e-mail or Facebook message, but I might just call this one a loss. (Sort of.)
Some of the stuff I wrote is already up. The surge in writing came from the Cease, Cows contest for Halloween. They had a 1000-word cap and a theme of "hallow/hallowed" that stories needed to fit into. One submission for $5, three submissions for $10. I wrote three stories and got an honorable mention with one. (And a Pushcart nomination!)
The winner of this batch according to Cease, Cows was the story "Atavism." I started writing this under the theme of "hollow" instead of "hallow" because I'm a goddamn idiot. I gave the woman empty bones and then, when I realized I was writing about the wrong word, just decided to keep that idea and work around it. So, a haunted house, some hollow bones, and the things people do when they're afraid.
Melanie thought that humans descended from birds. Back in the middle of her snap, she paid an old man strung out on heroin fifty bucks to read her past lives, to do a palm reading on the place where her hand was supposed to be but wasn’t. So he ran his finger down the scar that sealed the end of her arm up and then he told her that God created sparrows and some evolved into humans.
The other new thing that went up already is the story "My Friend Wallace Eating a Candy Apple at the End of the World." I wrote this last for the contest, in a quick burst. It's the shortest thing I've written in a long while, maybe the shortest thing I've ever had published. As is the way with DOGZPLOT, it's under 200 words, so I'm not going to excerpt it. You've got time to click a link.
"My Friend Wallace Eating a Candy Apple at the End of the World"
The non-story I got published recently is a review of my bro Dena Rash Guzman's debut poetry collection Life Cycle. It's a damn fine book made by a rough-neck that might also possibly be a red-neck. Part ghost and part glitter, part sweet and part bitter. (Not everyone gets the Macho Man Randy Savage-style intro, DRG.) Check it.
Guzman’s vision is true to itself, right down to the faults. This is proof that the book has been nurtured and then shot out, more creation than craft and goddamn all the better for it.
I almost forgot that I had a story get published right after that last blog went up, the aforementioned "There Is No Joy between the Last Thing and the Next Thing" up at Jersey Devil Press. It's about friendship and trust and moving forward, always.
When they called on me to testify, I told them I didn’t know Eugene to have a history of violence. What I meant was that spent knuckles and a dozen years of broken glass don’t add up to bank statements or toe tags, but, there they are.
The rest of the stories will be up in the months to come. "If There's Any Truth In a Northbound Train" was the second story written for the Cease, Cows contest and it'll be up at SmokeLong Quarterly in the spring. It's about twins and fate and what it means to be an older brother, if it means anything.
I also got solicited for a couple stories by Meg Tuite, one for the Sante Fe Literary Review and one for Connotation Press. SFLR will be publishing my story "Mexico," about sleep and reality and what happens when the amounts of each get thrown off together. Connotation nabbed up my story "Banzai Skydiving" about the difference between a lack of opportunity and a lack of skill. Both of these will be up fairly soon, if I understand it right.
The Indiana Review with my story "Shoot Out the Bright Lights" arrived in the mail the other day and it looks awesome. I've never been in a big journal like this, something with history and very slick production values.
I can't really do a year-end book round-up because I didn't read shit this year. Or, to be more specific, I read a bunch of shit this year, but not a lot of it in book form. I spent a fair amount of time reading manuscripts for Passenger Side and reading stuff online trying to find stuff I loved to solicit for manuscripts, but as far as books go, I didn't have a lot of luck or time.
The two books I put out on PSB that weren't my book are my favorites. They had to be and have to be and are. Justin Lawrence Daugherty's Whatever Don't Drown Will Always Rise is brilliant, the biggest heart of the hardest warrior. Matthew Burnside's Infinity's Jukebox is really that: the tunes of a lifetime, every lifetime. (ORDER HERE!)
Aaron Teel's Shampoo Horns is my favorite book I had nothing to do with other than sitting down and reading it cover-to-cover. It's dirty and tender and says a lot about what it means to grow up with nothing more than yourself and the people around you.
I read Brian Allen Carr's Vampire Conditions, too, and really dug it. Blake Butler's Scorch Atlas did nothing for me. I didn't even finish it.
I don't know why I didn't read, other than time. I know my old job killed a lot of my creativity and ability to focus on creative endeavors. Maybe next year will be better. It kind of has to be, right?
I always forget that reading and writing go hand in hand, and in a year when I played a bunch of shows with a bunch of different bands and wrote a lot of music, some strange and some in the box, for several groups, I can name a list of a dozen killer records I spun over and over again. One feeds into the other, which doesn't make it less of a struggle to think of something to pull from the air, but it does make the air a bit thicker.
There's a stack of books I bought this year from a lot of great writers. Amber Sparks, Matt Bell, Jon Konrath, David Atkinson, Sam Snoek-Brown and on and on. I know they're all talented and enjoyable. This one's on me.
Hopefully I'll tune in sooner than every four months to this thing, but incase I don't, here are my new tour dates, reading in a city near you. (Maybe.) March 2014! NO COAST SPRING BREAK!
Friday, March 14: St. Louis, MO
Saturday, March 15: Carbondale, IL
Sunday, March 16: Nashville, TN
Monday, March 17: Louisville, KY
Tuesday, March 18: Cincinnati, OH
Wednesday, March 19: Fort Wayne, IN
Thursday, March 20: Grand Rapids, MI
Friday, March 21: Chicago, IL
Saturday, March 22: Madison, WI
Regardless, I'll be in the car on March 13th and I'll be in these cities, doing my thing. Join me if you can.
Until then, party like you want it.