Thursday, September 30, 2010

...I have a new poem, "Afterward" up at The Camel Saloon and here under "Words In Print."

...A really good angry song is "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine. I played it, oh, five times back to back while in the car today. And Rage Against the Machine is a great band name.

..."Parenthood" was great last night. I smile through the whole show every time I watch it.

...They're putting out "Best of the Web" and "Pushcart" nominees. I'm happy for anyone who gets nominated, but I have to say I am often surprised. I understand it's subjective, but really great stuff by other people doesn't make it when some average stuff by others do. I think almost anything xTx writes could be nominated. Same with Kim Chinquee or Barry Graham or Meg. Where are they??

...I'm crafting my next novel. I have most of the characters. I just need more conflict. I think this will actually be funny and happy. How do you really know, though, until someone else reads it? I'm really good at writing tragic. In high school I had my own column and used to write funny stuff all the time. Maybe I can get that mojo back. It seems like I have about two years to write a best-seller, then Barnes and Nobel will fall into a black pit and only Stephen King and Janet Evanovich will have book deals. Two years if fast. That's a lot of pressure.

...I've taken up the guitar again. I think I'll stick with it this time. I have long fingers, thin fingers. I should be good at it. Just have trouble switching chords fast enough. If anyone has any tips, please advise.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

...I have two new poems, "Migrants" and "Taken Away" up at Verse Wisconsin and also here under "Words In Print."

...What a strange feeling not being under the burden of the novel, very odd. I should be esctatic, feel liberated. Instead I feel befuddled and directionless.

...Bob Mayer spoke at the PNWA Writer's Conference in Seattle. I got on his mailing list. Here is a very interesting article--Barnes and Noble disappearing? Really? And what am I to do, when only brand name writers are going to make it and I'm not even a mid-lister? Yikes...
...Here's Bob:
We’re back. September has been crazy and the pace isn’t going to slow down in October, but the Warrior Writer on-line loop will be back for October, but with a somewhat difference focus, which I’ll describe further on.
I presented at the Wrangling for Writing Conference in Tucson this past weekend. It was an excellent conference and I learned a lot.
Frankly no one knows what is really going on with publishing. I’m going to give you my best guesses based on my experiences and reading and listening to many people with different experiences. One workshop this past weekend was full of great information from Jerry Simmons who worked many years in the NY Publishing business. He started out by saying he had no idea what the future of publishing was. But he gave it his best shot and I’ll incorporate what he said into my knowledge.

Here are some facts:
The Big 6 Publishers control 95% of print publishing.
Starting in 1995, the print business began contracting.
The decline of the book chains is biggest problem for traditional publishers. Borders will soon be gone. I believe Barnes and Noble won’t be far behind. This means the selling of print books will fall more and more to places like Target and Walmart (besides the growing digital market). To me this means midlist authors are in an even worse bind than ever as far as print, because those places are only going to rack Brand Name authors. We’re going to miss Barnes and Noble’s huge shelf spaces. On the bright side, the eBook market is wide open.
There are only 300 indie boosktores left and they’re dying off too. 10 years ago there were 4,000.
7 out of 10 books printed by the Big 6 lose money.
10% of their titles generate 90% of their revenue.
Those two facts indicate a reality: the focus for the Big 6 is going to be more and more on the Brand authors and less on midlist. The problem is: where are the next generation of Brand Name Authors going to come from?

Here’s the conundrum that NY doesn’t want to face: The book business is the same but the retail business has changed. While NY basically operates the same, the way books are sold has changed dramatically. How many music retailers are left in your town?

The focus is too much on celebrity books in NY and many are money-losers. Much more so than all those midlist authors. The bestseller lists are very deceptive. For example, Kate Gosselin’s recent book sold only 11,000 copies yet hit #6 on the NY Times list. Someone is playing with the numbers to make it look good, but many of those big deals are money-bleeders for trad publishers.

The overhead for the Big 6 operating out of the Big Apple is way too high. Heck, even Who Dares Wins Publishing, which we started up this year and operates out of my office in WA and Jennifer Talty’s office in NY, has overhead. We could never operate brick and mortar out of a NY office. So that’s something that’s going to have to be addressed. I see further major contractions occurring in NY and more out-sourcing of jobs to people digitally. The acquiring editors will still be in NY with the agents, but a lot of the other parts are going to be out-sourced.

Social Media is essential for authors, regardless of how they are published. We came out with We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb recently and it’s our bestseller in a number of formats. Kristen also runs a very active blog on writing and publishing here. I have also revamped my blog and renamed it Write It Forward. The focus of the blog is very much like this newsletter: what’s the latest in publishing along with tips on the craft of writing.

There are two major trends in publishing going on right now:
1. Mid list authors going it on their own. Actually, this is creeping upward. David Morrell just announced he is bringing nine books from his backlist into print AND his newest title on his own, skipping traditional publishing altogether. This is biggest name fiction writer to do this. I’m going to do the math on self-publishing on a separate Warrior Writer post on the loop later this month. The perception right now is that overall, the quality of self-published books is poor. The reality is, most new authors who have self-published are indeed putting up poor quality. However, there are a number of traditionally published authors who are bringing backlist into print and these are books (like mine, hint hint) that have hit bestseller lists. Readers will separate the quality out. Thank you.

2. Digital publishing is exploding. I’ve seen it just this year. In January, there were many yawns at the Digital Book World conference. Those yawns have changed to expressions of shock. I’ve been predicting in these newsletters and on the internal loop that the change from print to digital would be many times faster than most were predicting and I’ve been proved right (slight pat on the back). Change is happening exponentially, not linearly. I predict by the end of 2011 we will be close to 50-60% of all books being digital. Jenny Crusie emailed me that her latest release, Maybe This Time, which hit the NY Times list, had 40% sales in eBook with 60% in hardcover. Romance is a genre where readers are very tech-savvy so that might lead the way. Although, I suspect Scifi might also be a genre that is tech heavy.
The problem is this: the makers of digital platforms like Kindle and iPad want content. The Big 6 are loath to give digital content to them because they believe it cuts into their hardcover and other print sales and would hurt their own business. So there is a huge divide between the platform makers, primarily Amazon and Apple, and the content providers.
This is the VOID that will destroy some of the Big 6 if they don’t exploit it. And also the VOID which savvy writers can fill. I’ll do a WW Loop post on the VOID in October.

With digital books you’re looking at volume of sales, not pricing. This is where the Big 6 are also making a mistake. But because of their high overhead, they’re forced into a pricing system that isn’t working. Charging $14.99 for a new eBook just isn’t going to survive. Plus Kindle is forcing the pricing because anything over $9.99 doesn’t get the 70% royalty rate.
Again, I’m going to devote a WW Loop post to the math of eBooks in October.

eBooks are changing the playing field as far as book length. Both ways. For print, you needed at least 60,000 words to be viable. Ebooks can be as small as 10,000. In fact, books with less content as selling better. On the other hand, my current WIP, which runs 170,000 words will also not be a problem in eBook as far as printing and paper costs. Also, an enhanced version with maps and photos is being developed.

Something that is starting to be addressed is how do I create additional value for ebook content? David Baldacci recently added content to his recent release. Because the platform can accept additional content, it is inevitable that it will become an inherent part of the business. While Kindle doesn’t want to get into multimedia, the iPad does support it.

Right now there are 6 formatting styles for eBook—some day there will be one.

A self-published book that sells 5 or 6 thousand books will get interest from the Big 6 and literary agents.

All in all, I think it’s an exciting time to be an author with lots of opportunities. But only if you educate yourself and stay on top of the latest developments and trends.

Monday, September 27, 2010

…Thanks to my good friend, Meg Pokrass, I have a new piece, "Mermaid" up at BLIP magazine and here under "Words In Print."

…I was rejected again by PANK last night. I think that makes 16 times. I have two more pieces I'll try, then I'll pack up my PANK bags and mosey on into the sunset.

…I finished my novel editing today. It's a strange feeling. Maybe it's like what prisoners feel when the barbwire gates screech open and they're standing in the open air, free, but no one around to greet them. Is the novel good? I don't even know anymore. And what I also don't know is how writers can enjoy the editing process. I'd rather have ice picks shoved through both corneas. But that's just me.

…I just finished Sharon Olds' "The Dead and The Living." Some of her poems were really good. Some--the ones about her kids-- were uncomfortable. She has no probably writing about their private body parts. But using the "C" word to describe her seven year old's penis seemed a little over the top… Anyway, I wonder how many people read poetry. I know there are a lot of poets around. I know people read quite a bit of poetry online, myself included. But how many people actually pay money and buy a volume of poetry, that's what I wonder. I bet less than one percent of all poets can make a living from their writing. That's sort of sad.

…"Grey's Anatomy" is a good show. Last season's finale was probably the second best episode of television ever, next to the "Lost" pilot. People who don't watch television are missing out. It seems like the quality of shows is the best ever. If you scrub out reality tv and all the inane alphabet shows-- CSI, NCSI, L&O-- many are as good as films. There are actually too many good ones. Consider these:
--Parenthood (outstanding, truly)
--The Office
--Mad Men
--Empire Boardwalk
--Nurse Jackie
--Modern Family
--Mike and Molly
--Raising Hope
and on and on.

…I get a lot of magazines. Magazines are a good value, if you think about it. Plus they help you keep up on pop culture. "Interview" is one I especially like. It's been around a longggg time. Andy Warhol started it. The photography is always stellar and while it takes some time for each interview to get going, it's fun to see celebs interviewing fellow celebs. Blake Lively was interviewed by Ben Afflect (I always want to shout "Aflack" like the duck in those insurance commercials every time I write or say his name.) Blake comes across pretty genuine, humble and fun. She had a stunning turn in "The Town." Her whole family is in show business--all four siblings act, her dad's an agent and her mom does something.

…Changing gears for a moment--how nutty is that guy that runs Iran? What a wack job. He wants the UN to open an investigation into the events of 9/11 because "all the world believes the United States was behind what happened." I wonder what Iranian citizens think of that loon. And how the hell did he ever get to be in charge? Anyway, I'm just saying…

…"Let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing you can do with words is to surrender them." -- George Orwell

Saturday, September 25, 2010

…I have three things up:
--Two poems, "Carousel" and "Genie" at Bananafish, and
--Zombie Indian Summer at xTx's blog, which I love, No Time To Say It.
They're also all here under "Words In Print."

--I am a runner. I run long. Problem is I get injured a lot. I do not like being sick or injured and will usually not fess up that I am. This mornning was my 18 miler. At the start, my back was so sore I could hardly walk. So I took off my five pound water belt and walked, running little spurts every so often. After awhile the soreness went away and I ran 18 straight without stopping. Now my body feels like that scene in The Sopranos--a show I miss dearly--where they tie the guy to a chair and beat him with baseball bats.

…Do you ever wonder how many people are doing something they love, if not the the very thing they always wanted to do? The world would be a lot different if that were the case. Of course, life wouldn't function because who would do all the sucky jobs? Maybe everyone would have to do sucky jobs for a certain period, gaining points or credits and once you had enough sucky job points accumulated, you could trade them in for dream job points and once you had enough of those, maybe you could get the dream job. The world would probably tilt on it's axis a bit, though. For instance, I just read in Esquire that being an A list movie star was considered the #1 dream job of 38 % of American males, both young and old. There aren't enough films for all those people, so that would pose a problem. But do you ever wonder (I guess I think too much, huh?) about all the very talented people, the uniquely talented people who, for whatever reason, don't make it? Nick Drake is a classic example. He killed himself at 24, then got discovered after his death and has a cult following (one of his songs is on the Visa commercial--or maybe it's Mastercard--where they drape gigantic orange curtains over buildings.) Van Gough's another good example. There a lots of them.

…I think I would write if no one read my stuff. Actually I know I would because I've been doing that for years and years now.

…I've decided to go to AWP in February. It's primarily a writer's conference for the online, flash sort of writers. I'm one of those now, yet I still very much feel like an outsider. I'll go and try to be gregarious. I am equal parts shy and social. At the AWP I will be the latter. I will make it a point to introduce myself to all the great writers I admire but have never met. It will be fun and worthwhile, I'll make sure of it.

…Here's some more Annie Dillard (I've never seen a picture of her, and I know I could Google her name, but I have this image of her that I don't want dispelled (as a sort of Jane Goodall type, sage tank-top, hairy armpits, wild, curly brown hair, no makeup, freckles, sort of cute and attractive in that unvarnished, jungle way…) Shes quite a genius, our Annie. She has this lovely stilted style and captures the essence of a thing and spins it in a unique way. Oh, Annie…
"How we spend out days, is of course, how we spend out lives. What we do with this hour and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order--willed, faked, and so b rought into being; it is a peace and a haven st into the wreak of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern."

Friday, September 24, 2010

...I have three new pieces up:
--"Daughter" @ Dogzplot
--"Doppelganger" @ Vis a Tergo, and
--"Front Porch" @ The Camel Saloon
All are also here under "Words In Print"

...Yesterday I picked my son up at school and we had a very fun day/evening together. We saw "The Town." It's a B+. Strong acting, directing, moves fast. I like violence now and then, too, which this movie has. The Boston dialect, however, was hard to decifer sometimes and the story was also a tad predictable, but otherwise this was very entertaining, through the whole 2 hours and 3 minutes. Thumbs up!

...Afterward we saw Vampire Weekend play the Paramount. They were outstanding. Played every song they had, covered the Boss's "Going Down" (it was Bruce's B. Day yesterday) and lit the crowd on fire. My son and I bopped in the mosh pit until we were exhausted. The average age of attendants was 16-26, but I didn't care. Vampire Weekend--you should check them out. There's nothing like them.

...Lindsay Lohan is back in jail tonight. You could say, "Why does anyone care?" Well, obviously they do. Obviously a lot of people care. It would be very easy to dislike Lindsay, even to the point of loathing her. She comes across contrived, arrogant and haughty, a raspier, more trailer trash-version of Paris Hilton. It'd be natural to wish her ill. But you know, without forgiveness, all of us would be screwed.
...I remember Robert Downey Jr. was in a similar situation as Linds. He got arrested four times for drug posession. He got arrested for breaking and entering when they found him asleep on some stranger's foyer, stoned out of his mind. No one would work with him. When I met him at an event, he was sweating and trembling and very clearly still on something. That was five years ago. Look at Robert now--one of the most sought-after actors.
...Similarily, I'll never forget coming back from a week's vacation in Mexico and seeing a photo of Britney Speakers with a shaved head, some hideous ensemble that made her look fifty pounds heavier, swinging a pink, Minnie Mouse umbrella at a paparazzi. I thought it was a joke, photo-shopped, something like that. But it wasn't, of course. From there things got worse: crotch shots of her without underwear; walking barefoot in a gas station restaurant; handing her little boy a pack of cigarettes to play with; checking into a mental ward, losing custody of her kids... Now Brit's as big as ever.
...So, I guess the point is two fold: 1.) We all need to be cut some slack. "People who least deserve love are usually the ones who need it the most." And, 2. )Never say never. Everybody gets a second chance, it's just depends what's done with it. People (Americans, especially) love a comeback story. And thank God for that.

...Here are two quotes I like: "I write because I read, and I just think it's part of the same conversation. I've always thought writers are only readers who sort of go karaoke. They here something they really admire, or wish they had done, so they set out to do it. More and more, I write for a specific purpose, or audience, or to see if I can do it." -- Thomas Lynch

"Be tough on your writing, then be tough on getting it sold. This ain't no buisiness for sissies." -- Nat Sobel


Sunday, September 19, 2010

…I have three new pieces up:
- "Facts About the Moon" @ The Smoking Poet
- "Press Rewind" @ Troubadour 21, and
- "Cyber" @ Unfold
They are all also here under "Words in Print."

…I just returned from taking my daughter to college. I would like to go back to college. I would make less mistakes if I did. Probably, though, I wouldn't have as much fun. College was an unwieldy, rowdy movie for me, sort of like "Animal House" come-to-life. "Animal House" but real, with consequences. It was also dangerous. Freedom + a 19 year old drinking age = Danger. Toss in other ingredients I won't mention here, and, well, you get danger to the 10th power. But, going to college again, I would probably learn a lot more. This time around, I'm certain I'd retain things for longer periods of times. I wouldn't skip class to watch "All My Children" or play RISK tournaments with a pony keg at the ready. This time I'd be attentive. Also, I wouldn't be so shy and demure around professors. I realize now they're just people, so I'd be complementary to the good ones. I'd write them thank you notes and encourage them. On the flip side, I'd be vocal about the bad professors, especially the ones that don't like kids. (It always gets me how some teachers hate kids. If you hate kids, go work in a convolescent center, or a glue factory.) Anyway, my girl is now officially a college freshman. I miss her, of course, and am a little bit envious, but she'll be fine and I'll be fine and life will swirl on as it most appropriately should.

…One of my brothers is a hero of mine. He went to Viet Nam at the age of twenty, saw a lot of action on the DMZ, and came back broken in ways no young man should. Last night I went with him to an auction that benefits War Vets. It was held at a lake on the edge of Idaho, in the boonies, with dirt roads, surrounded by scores of rusty-looking pine trees. By the time we arrived, there were in excess of one hundred Harley's in the make-shift parking lot. Acres of black leather--jackets and chaps. Pony-tailed men in doo rags. Lots of tats. The chicks were not too appealing. (Actually, you can scratch the "too" in that last sentence.) I felt a tad out of place in my skinny cardigan and oxford button down. My shoes were denim and orange with toggles for shoe laces. My jacket came from Ambercrombie. Plus, I wasn't carrying any weapons, not even mace or a BB gun… It was an odd experience, yet also pretty special--this netherworld culture all getting together to help somebody less fortunate. Ninety percent in attendance were vets themselves. Many were in wheelchairs or had a prosthesis. A sense of pride and loyalty floated below the surface, but it also spilled over in blantant, patriotic displays. I imagine, if you could get past the cigarette smoke and croaky voices, and sit down with most of these people, you'd probably hear stories that would break your heart a few times over. What I really saw there was love. And I came away again reminded that we all wear costumes, all different kinds, it's just that a lot of us, especially the ones in suits or skinny carigans--well, we don't usually realize it.

…I'm going to watch "Presumed Innocent" tonight. I hope it holds up. I don't really like Harrison Ford, but this film and three others --"Frantic," "The Fugitive" and "Witness"--are among my favorites, ones I think about at odd times for random reasons. I hope you are watching a great film. Sometimes there's nothing better.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

...I have a new Twitter fiction, haiku-type thingy called "Mirror" up at Unfold and also here under "Words In Print." I'm not sure if it's any good. I don't think I like it. I come off as if I'm trying too hard.

...I used to try to defend Seattle against people who claimed it rained too much here. The fact is, it does rain too much here. We use up all our vocabulary describing the rain--showers, drizzzle, downpour, deluge, light rain, heavy rain, big fat ass rain...I could have filled several bathtubs in the last two hours with how much water has fallen. But rain is supposed to purify the air, so there's that.

...Tomorrow is a sad day. Actually they've all been depressing the last week or so. We drive to central Washington and drop off my daughter. I was going to write her something, but then thought that'd be kind of hokey. I'm not above hokey, but the words are slippery when it comes to that subject.

...I rewrote/edited an especially violent scene in my novel yesterday. Today I read it back and it's quite good. Often times when I read something back I think, "That's crap." I'm nearing the end of the edit. At least this round anyway.

...Yesterday I mentioned Barry Graham at Dogzplot. Here's some of his fine writing from Elimae:

Two Fictions
Barry Graham

And so it begins, like this, waiting too long for a lazy train out of West Toledo. Sugar white smoke ascends from the broken window of a nearby tool shed. On the concrete platform couples embrace, preparing to go their separate ways, pretending next time they meet they will pull out a map and choose a place, Ann Arbor or Los Angeles or Atlantic City, and that's where they'll belong, where they'll build a life and live happy, forever, like Shrek and Fiona or sharks or birthday party magic they no longer believe in. And why should they. The train hasn't left yet, but they both look eagerly towards the tracks, anticipating its departure.

The Great Wall
And so it begins, like this, waiting too long for a lazy train out of South Camden. The sky expands, turns lemonade pink along the river line before she departs. I pat her ass and we kiss for a long time but not long enough and I cry when I think she's not looking. Ask the Chinese or the Germans about secrets and revolutions and masonry, I say, and she starts to nod then stops. No need, she says, the French tell me other things. So I nod too, neither of us knowing what we meant. Why she's coming and going. Why the sun sets so beautifully on such occasions.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

...I have a new poem, "Brick Room" up at The Camel Saloon and also here under "Words in Print." I was listening to Ben Folds sing "Brick" and so the poem became an homage to that.

...My daughter leaves for college on Friday. They talk about the circle of life. They are right about a lot of things. They must be psychic. They are certainly smart because it feels as though we are planning for my daughter's funeral, as if she has a fatal disease and the doc has given her a week to live. Yesterday her grandmother brought over a box of my daughter's old baby pictures.

...I like being a Dad, a parent. I think I should have had lots of children. Well, not me, literally, although I think it would be cool to be pregnant. (I realize that doesn't sound very macho, but I'm being honest.) Kids are a good thing. Kids should run the US Senate. Kids make me happy, they make me laugh. They help make sense of the world. Thank God, I still have my son at home.

...I got a piece accepted at Dogzplot today. I like that lit mag a lot, and Barry Graham, their editor is a damn good writer. If you want a great story collection, buy his "The Virginity Pledge." (There's actually not a virgin in it.)

...I was not very productive today. Did nothing on the novel, but I've got the sheers on my desk right here and some Tickle Me Elmo bandages, so I'm going to get to work editing it in a minute. The only thing I wrote today was this piece (I don't know who Anne is, but I miss her):


You come in and out of focus like migraine vision.
Even the pressure point is there above my brow,
an ice pick pricking my skull,
sinking into the coiled maw of my sad brain where
no tool has ever been.

I remember that we danced in a hail storm once,
all those frosted Dip ‘N Dots catching in our hair, bouncing off our cheeks.
You tilted your head back, daring heaven,
started spinning and never did stop.

We went skinny dipping one night at your Uncle’s cabin.
The water was black as oil and the moon sluiced a worn white path from one end of the lake
to where you dog-paddled,
out of breath and smelling like weeds,
the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen.

We had a dog named Che and you bought him fatigue-patterned hankies and
taught him how to wear a beret, “Like a real communist,” you said.
When he died, you read a poem you’d written on a napkin at Starbucks.
Those words still stun me when I recall them,
their cadence and the way
you did not cry.

Not a long while later
we broke apart like wet newsprint.
We still had sentences and stories stained on our skin,
verifiable tales of our shared history,
but we became faded, ink-smeared, and
I often wondered:
if someone took our two torn sheets,
would they fit together,
the jagged rips like two different halves of the same whole,
yin and yang,
needy and full?

I have not felt whole since the night you played
connect-the-dots with the bare naked stars,
moonglow on your face being the push I needed to propose
then and there.
So when I got the news last week
I thought it was a prank you were pulling,
because if anyone loved life it was you.

Now, I have been writing for days.
My words are reedy and thin,
shredded scraps of balloon rubber
that make my mouth clammy
when I read them.

I don’t know if I can do it, Anne,
be as strong as you,
face the future knowing
you are no longer in it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

...I like golf. I don't know why. It doesn't make any sense. I can't golf for shit. I don't golf. I have golfed maybe 12 times in my life. My son says only old people like golf. I do not want to be old. I do not want to be old, even when I am old. My son says only white people like golf. He says Tiger Woods doesn't count. I am white. I am a white person who would like to be black. (I am serious about that--just ask my kids.) But, alas, it is too late for me to be black. If I believed in re-incarnation I might have another shot at being black. Maybe I'd be a black beetle tho. I wouldn't like that. That would suck. I'd be smelly and have to root around in the dirt and worry about being eaten or stepped on. I will just have to be content being white. And, besides, I don't believe in re-incarnation.

...Tonight is the premier of "Parenthood." The name sounds lame, like something in "Good Housekeeping" magazine. But, trust me (I first typed in "thrust me" by accident) it's a fab show. Doesn't matter if you're a parent or not, it's wonderful. I usually grin like an idiot the entire time I watch it. On ocassion the show will make me weep. Yes, I am white and I am male and I cry at poignant moments during television shows and at films.

...I got new music the other day. Music is one my eight things you can never have too much of. What I got was this:
--Kid Rock, "Rock and Roll Jesus" (it's really good. yes, it is. shut up. it's good. he sounds like AC/DC.)
--The old/first Drake ep. (i would like to hang with Drake. i just watched a documentary about him and he seems like a very cool guy. humble, too, which is rare for rappers.)
--New Goo Goo Dolls. (yes, they are still alive. so far, it's pretty good, but not up there with "iris.")
--Justin Beiber's first ep (don't be a hater. i am a big beebs fan. he's this generation's bobby sherman, david cassidy, shaun cassidy, andy gibb--there i just dated myself big time, and also re-confirmed my own whiteness.)
--New Arcade Fire ("the suburbs." great reviews were correct.)
--Carrie Underwood (she's got pipes and is so hot she could set off a few gas lines with a wink.)

...The VMA's were quite entertaining. I did not expect them to be. I actually think it was a better show than any Grammy's night. Taylor was a doll. Knaye's song rocked and I laughed at the chorus every time he sang. Beebs did a poor job of lip singing. I am a Gaga fan. Em laid it down strong. Chelsea Handler was on the cusp of being a total tramp. She gets away with it because she grins obliviously the whole time. Her favorite lines of mine:
--"Don't you just love Justin Beiber? That song, "Baby, Baby, Baby" is so catchy. I can't wait to find out how good his music will be once he finally sees a vagina."
--"Justin is really sweet, but there are some things that piss him off, like confusing him with a twenty-eight year old lesbian."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

...I got three poems accepted today. I'm up to 177. It never gets old.

...Here's one of the quotes-a-day that came this morning. "On the internet, no one knows you're a dog." -- Peter Steiner. That's so true and also could have two different meanings.

...Here's one I found written down in a pile of my writing junk. "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." -- Mae West

...When I took writing classes in college, they said to never go anywhere without pen and paper in case an idea strikes. I feel naked if I don't have them. However, I find random thoughts everywhere. Many times I have no idea what I was getting at when I wrote them down, but I am a sucker for a clever turn of phrase.

...Here in Seattle we have had a sucky summer. It's not supposed to work that way. We pay all fall and winter long for our sun-struck summers. This season, we got ripped off. It's grayer than cement outside right now.


Get out of that slushpile, what are you crazy?!?!?
Sure, these tips are gold, but they don't cover everything.

I give you

My 21 tips (apologies if I stole any)

1. Have you considered writing a sex scene or giving your protagonist large breasts?
2. Try adding Literary Ambiguity to your short story. If you are successful, your reader will always come away from your fiction with the ability to compare it to a film they once rented.
3. If your plot is too exciting or moving too fast, enhance realism by making your characters stop for a meal at an ethnic restaurant. Describe each course and allow your characters to re-cap the plot so far.
4. A well built character is one who refuses to change, regardless of the trauma he or she endures. Think: Rifleman or Mannix.
5. Do not write a single word unless you know how your story will end. You are the dungeon master.
6. Apply Epiphany directly to the forehead.
7. Trust your workshop peers. They aren’t in competition with you or anything, nor are they attempting to hijack your story to make it their own. Use all of their advice. Also, keep work-shopping a recalcitrant story for years.
8. Rashomon an insignificant event.
9. Heighten the emotional impact by making sure a kitten/puppy/baby is injured or killed by a Very Bad Person.
10. Leave it open-ended as to whether your point of view character is Insane.
11. Perhaps your story could use an erotic dimension involving a character with a very large penis.
12. Writing successful fiction is all about reinforcing separation between the classes: Definitely think in terms of Main Plot and Subplots. Organization is the key.
13. Write what you know, especially you white people out there.
14. Very Bad People are inherently interesting.
15. Last line=punch line. Seal that sucker off. Lock that story down.
16. Subtext means writing in code. Readers love to work hard at detecting what you really meant to say.
17. Italics, italics, italics. Especially for flashbacks.
18. Depression hurts everyone, so a story that is completely non-stop depressing—say a faithful chronicle of a terminal patient’s decline and death—is emotionally successful.
19. Children lead interesting lives and make wonderful point of view characters, mainly because they don’t know anything!
20. Make sure your readers know if your characters aren’t white.
21. Try writing a story from the point of view of an impossible object, like Dick Cheney’s hospital gown.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

...I have a new poem, "Great Imposters" up at and here under "Words In Print." I think Shannon Pell, who runs, is a top notch guy. I do not usually use that expression "top notch." It isn't my style and sounds a little stiff and old-fashioned, so I've just this second decided against using it anymore. How about this: Shannon Pell is one of the good guys, with an editor's sharp eye, and he also gives voice to thousands of great words and pictures that would otherwise be lost... There, I like that better.

I like to make up stories. I'm a writer. When my kids were young I would make up real vivid yet outlandish tales. Even now, all these years later, I'll make up wacky tales or twist around the ordinary in sch a crazy fashion that when I do, on ocassion, tell them something very strange but true, they say, "Uh uh, that didn't happen," and then I'll have to offer up Pinkie Swear so that they listen. Well today..
--My son's soccer coach told me a story that seemed like a movie script on par, if not surpassing that of "The House of Sand and Fog."
--Her old neighbor and her got into a feud. (I pictured him in overalls, skeletal and grisly, sort of like John Carradine, if you remember David's dad, or else the evil lighthouse caretaker in all those Scooby Doo episodes.)
...Anyway, feud...
--They both had adjoining homes in the country and shared the same property line. He kept plowing over their side, intentially tearing up their lawn. Then he'd shoot at their dogs if they wandered over. He got a backhoe and dug an enormous gully between his land and hers, not only that, but he filled the ditch with tons (literally, tons) of reeking cat crap. Not satisfied, he'd buy junk cars that had been squashed and flattened for scrap metal. He'd poison all the trees on that side of her house so that she'd have no choice other than to look out her window, seeing her land framed in rusted steel heeps.
-The clincher came when one morning she was going to fly somewhere, had luggage in her hand on the porch, and the dogs got loose, bursting out the door and bounding outside. She thought, I'll just put the bags in the car and then grab the dog. However, right as she was closing the trunk, she heard a heard a rifle blast ring out.
--The neighbor shot her dog! Not only that, but he wouldn't let her carry the body back to her house. She had picked the pet up and had it cradled in her arms when the neighbor came flying and tackled her. They tumbled on the ground, wrestling for control. He smacked her on the head, then cabled the dead animal by the neck, dragging it away before finally dropping it in a ditch.
--So the woman calls 911, right? A short time later, seven SWAT cars arrive, with uniformed marksmen wearing bullet proof vests, rifles drawn, guns sighted. Grisled neighbor dude comes out with a chainsaw screaming and, over the din, matter-of-factly asks, "What seems to be the problem?" They take Grisly Adams in, book him because they eventually locate the dumped animal carcass as well as--get this--the dog's collar in Grisled dude's pocket.
--The guy later misses court hearings. Then he's booked on more serious charges. Five days after his arraignment, he kills himself. Yep. Might even have been the very same rifle.
--Back at his L-shaped ranch home, investigators discover over 200 cats living inside! Which explains how he could get his hands on all that cat crap that he used to mound up across the shared property line. With 200 cats, he could probably scoop a few tons out of the kitchen alone.
...What a story. My jaw dropped, then dropped again, then hit me in the ankle. Yes, indeed, life can be stranger than fiction, which now, is time for me to do--create some fiction of my own, that is.

Friday, September 10, 2010

...I live on a lake. I like it. I love it. The weather has a lot do to with the way the lake feels, looks, reflects. The lake is like music in some ways. It can be Barry Manilow or Disturbed or Rah Rah Riot or Eminem or Carrie Underwood. Even Lawrence Welk at times, all champagne bubbles and waltzes. You just never know. This is one of the reasons why I like the lake so much.

...Currently the lake is Barbara Streisand dueting with Barry Gibb, slinging a droll version of their hit single, "Guilty."

...Yesterday was an action-packed day for feedback. One of my older stories, a very surreal piece that is the basis for my novel, that got published originally in The Medulla Review, got reprinted and highlighted at Fiction Daily yesterday. Yay. (The story, "Thoroughly Modern Families" is posted here under "Words In Print".) Then, however, in quick succession, I got rejected by Elimae/Kim Chinquee, whom I adore, got declined to work at Smoke Long Quarterly, a place I admire, and got my sixteenth rejection from PANK, quadrupling the record for most rejections at a single publication. (Can you say, sadist Len?) Roxane, as she always does, wrote a very kind and--this time--very matter-of-fact explanation for why she turned me down. She didn't have to do that. She didn't have to take so much time. Roxane is kind. Roxane is pretty amazing. I consider myself fairly prolific (I wrote my 364th story in 17 months last night) but Roxane runs PANK, writes as much as me, plus I think she's a teacher or professor somewhere. So I guess I'm a slouch after all.

...It's amazing the attention that pastor received for wanting to burn the Quoran. He has less than fifty people who attend his church. What a wack job. People like him give christians a bad name and make it easy for others to paint all christians with the same brush. What he did prove, though, was how one person can really make a difference. It's a bad twist on the starfish story.

...Not to get all political, but I'm also astounded by the outcry regarding the guy who wants to build a mosque near ground zero. What the hell? Is this not America? Didn't this country get founded on freedom of religious beliefs? I get that certain people might not like it. I understand that ground zero is sacred. I think about 9/11 all the time (really, I do), but there are a lot of things I don't like about America and I learn to deal with them. Freedom isn't pretty.

...Blah blah blah

...I make it a goal to read 100 books a year. I've found that, often, the thinnest books take the longest too read. Usually reading a slim volume is like eating Grape Nuts; a cup-full can wear your jaw out and leave you exhausted. At least that was the case with "Why I Write" by George Orwell. What a whining socialist. Yet, of course, there were some good nuggets in the book, such as these:

"When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing."

"All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows, that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

...Yesterday I took my kids to see "Get Low," which you should see as well. I didn't know anything about it. Bill Murray was his dry, funny self, in high style and Robert Duvall was astonishing.

...My kids make me laugh. Often I end up crying and laughing at the same time. Once in awhile, I'll have to pull the car over because I'm in hysterics. The only line I can remember from yesterday was my son, out of the blue saying, "The up side to having hefty friends is they have really killer food." And when they started to recall antics of my own college days, I said, "I really screwed up by telling you the truth," which is true.

...Today my son started ninth grade. He's close to six three, handsome, wiry and witty. Next week my daughter begins college. In the words of Steve Miller, "Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin' into the future."

...The other day my boy and I were enganged in a wicked game of ping pong when I pinched a nerve in my back. I walk at a slant, like a human bommerang. The upside to being presently cripple is that I got a story out of it. This one...

The Day the Universe Learned How to Lean

There is no wind, yet I walk at a slant. Mother says I need to straighten up, change my attitude, but she can’t know that I’m being buried alive, pulled toward the greedy ground.
Since Dad died I’ve gone crooked. I’ve even starting shoplifting, which is difficult when you’re as noticeable as me. I steal things that make the holes in the air seem less large. I favor perfumes that remind me of smoke bombs.
At school the kids say, “Here comes the cripple, Boomerang girl.” A boy named Alex Diaz hurls a ruler at me and it slices my sweater above the breast. “Almost got a nipple!” he squeals. “A nipple from the cripple.” The gaggle pumps and roars their typhoon thunder.
In English we read old-fashioned poetry. I mispronounce John Donne’s name and stutter while reading, “Love’s Exchange,” but Mrs. Fletcher won’t cut me a break. It’s a long poem, a hundred miles long, all the way up to the top of that canyon where Dad’s car flew from.
The poem has tricky words in it like Devil and childish and Love’s minion. The syllables become angry bees that sting me as I swallow.
Then it’s like flatulence; I don’t even know I’m doing it until there’s a good-sized puddle between my legs. I see how dehydrated I am.
“That’s about enough,” Mrs. Fletcher says, and I think she means my hysterical classmates but she’s talking to me.

That night I paint a new galaxy. I color the stars pink and lavender and lemon meringue. I sand down their sharp edges. From a collection of the palest ones, I make metal ropes and crystal coffins. I scrunch a few thousand together to write my own love poem entitled, “The Day the Universe Learned How to Lean.”
I think about tomorrow. I won’t be going to school, but Mother will never let me skip my session. Hugh--that’s my therapist’s name--Hugh with the red, logger’s beard will want to go through all the old crap again, step by muddy step. He knows I’m hiding something. He thinks it was the car crash that put me this way, but what he doesn’t know can’t hurt me, so I’ll make myself stiff and moody. In the middle of things, I’ll ask for a soda or chewing gum.
Before I try to sleep, I wonder how old I’ll live to. My bet is twenty. Tops. I can already feel my ribs closing in, glueing up like Styrofoam in a fire. But I’m not afraid of dying. On the contrary, it has an appeal. I know I’ll find him on the other side. I’ll hunt him down in Hades if I have to. I’ll get my revenge.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

...I have a new poem, "Postage Stamps" up at and also here under "Words in Print."

...I read Yann Martel's new book, "Beatrice and Virgil." It was not very good, not even close to as good as "Life of Pi," his other wonderful novel. But I did get this quote which I like: "A story begins with three good words."

...Here's a story I originally wrote for a "Writer's Digest" contest with the prompt: "A character has the ability to go back in time and change one thing about their life." A magazine--Twisted Tongue--in the UK published it. It's sort of like a Twilight Zone episode. I think I like it, although I realized reading it back that I broke a couple POV rules. In any event, here's "Dime Toss."


Dime Toss
by Len Kuntz

The cab driver’s eyes were alert and alarmed, like a cat facing down
a python. He took her in through the rear-view conspicuously.
Her hair, her outfit, even her makeup was the wrong decade—
odd, futuristic somehow. Not only that, but she was weeping.
“You okay back there?”
She nodded, sighed, inhaled deep and said, “Take the next right.”
She knew where to find them, of course. She had the photograph in
her handbag and besides, she’d heard the story dozens of times, always
at her request: “Tell me again how you met. Please Mom, please?”
That was before the shattered bourbon bottles and busted bedroom
doors, the scalding incriminations and sunburst bruises.
But they had come for her graduation. To their credit they sat
together. To their credit, they waited a week before bringing her into the
kitchen to break the news.
“We still love each other, it’s just different now. Someday you’ll
understand. People change, Steffi.”
Steffi wasn’t a drinker. As proof, that night tequila raced through
her system unchecked, setting every cell afire. Her best friend suggested
the tarot reader and so she’d gone along, blurry-eyed and heavy-headed. The two girls had each been given a card. “Remember, it won’t
work unless you believe,” the old woman had warned.
“This is it,” the cabbie said, eyes wincing with concern. “You sure you’re okay?”
Steffi smiled and straightened.
Believe, she told herself.
She handed him three folded bills, and though she was at least ten years younger, she patted his hand. “You’re a good man,” Steffi said.
She walked into the carnival as if stepping into a Technicolor dream, a slow-motion hallucination. Warm, moist air caught her skirt and
hair. The night rose and fell in a maw of shrill laughter and screams, organ and rockabilly music, rumbling as this or that roller coaster rattled
across its rails.
Steffi checked her watch. In five minutes her mother would round that corner and set her purse on the wooden ledge and her father
would turn and be dumb-struck by her beauty and he’d pull up in mid-throw, arm hooking while the dime flew and twirled before it landed
in the furthest jar with the impossibly narrow mouth. The carny would call, “Winner!” his voice frail and startled because no one had ever
landed a coin in that particular jar, and thus none had ever won the giant panda worth a small fortune.
Good-love gone-bad, she’d seen it firsthand, felt the walls shudder, sat through steamy breakfast hatred and heard the deafening dinner
In a few moments Steffi could change it all if she could maintain her courage.
Believe, Steffi told herself.
“Hey there,” he said.
Turning, she staggered, unprepared for how young and handsome and dangerous he appeared. A wry smiled hitched his pulpy upper lip,
emphasizing a confident smirk. It was so easy to see why her mother had fell, and fell hard.
“You aren’t from around here, are you?” he asked, his blue-black hair glistening.
She knew what to do. She’d planned each detail down to the sigh and back arch. Also she understood her time was limited, that her
mother was three minutes away from making an appearance with her friend, Marcia, in tow.
“No,” Steffi purred.
“I didn’t think so. Your outfit, it’s strange.”
“Funny,” he said, “But I like it. It’s nice. Different.”
Steffi bit her lip. She was nineteen, a year older than this man, her father. Despite tremulous knees and sweat drops spider-crawling
down her ribs, she held his gaze.
“Say,” she asked, twirling a curl of her hair ridiculously, “will you do me a favour?”
“Oh, you betcha.”
“My friend is waiting in line at the Ferris Wheel. She’s easy to spot, poodle skirt, purple bow in her blonde hair. Will you tell her I won’t
be needing a ride home?”
Her father stared, blinked, and then grinned. “Of course. I’m your ride.”
“Sure thing.”
“But you can’t come back until you find her.”
“No problem.”
The daughter opened her handbag and pulled out the photograph of her parents arm-in-arm but for the six foot tall panda between
them. They looked happy, stunned by their good fortune at having found each other.
The daughter closed her eyes. Steffi wasn’t sure how long it would take, how long until she no longer existed, but she hoped it would be
Just then she heard her mother’s young-girl voice. “Say,” she
asked, “do I know you?”

© Len Kuntz
Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State with his family and
other pesky lake creatures. His writing appears widely in print and on the
web, as well as at

Friday, September 3, 2010

...Here are three pieces that were published in "6S Volume 3," edited by the legendary Lydia Davis ("6S" stand for six sentences, meaning each story had to be six sentences or shorter.)

Moving Day

The box smells musty but after I shift some contents, it doesn’t. Maybe twenty-five years have passed since I’ve seen this; brittle now but still bearing the faintest sweet scent, still blushing berry hues in the bed of its pedals.
I carry it down the steps like a trophy, a gift, a caught butterfly, and I imagine time as things were when you held one side of your gowned chest to me, so clear-skinned and optimistic you were then, me pimpled and nervous that I’d stab you with the corsage pin.
I reenact it all, right down to the part where I hear your insistent voice say, “If we don’t get going pretty soon, we’ll never make it.”


We trade blows for awhile until I’m blinded by blood and sweat and he knows he has me defeated. He calls me denigrating names and kicks me in the ribs as I tumble.
There is no crowd. Years later there will be. He beats me now, this old man, but I will have my just desserts in time. People will pay.


Sometimes it happens this way, with him driving 1-90 to work, seeing a plane floating low over Union Bay, toggling between buildings and it’ll catch him unaware and he’ll remember stopping at Starbucks that September morning, the newscaster’s baritone tremulous and uncertain, him and everyone thinking hoax, thinking Orson Wells, and then later that night, thinking Armageddon and Satan.
Many days afterward there was a Robert Deniro documentary and he thought this could be a teaching moment for Hailey, his young daughter, with whom he had custody on weekends.
He made cocoa with mini marshmallows and once they became soupy Lilly pads Hailey plucked their white guts with her little girl fingers and drew letters across his cheeks.
On the television the buildings simmered and smoldered, sirens shrieked, people leapt and bodies thumped. They’d left none of the horror or death out, and while he knew he should have switched the channel, he couldn’t, riveted as he was.
When the program finished, his daughter turned to him with a yawn and asked if he could read her a story.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

...I wrote like a fiend yesterday, but didn't touch the novel. Today. Today, yes siree, today will be novel day.

...I saw a facebook post yesterday that said, "I love Jesus and phone sex." I thought that was pretty great.

...For whatever reason, musically I'm feeling nostalgic. Had Olivia Newton John (yes, really) stuck in my head on the run this morning, then segued (that word never looks like it's spelled correctly, but it is) into Neal Sedaka's, "Laughter In The Rain," which is a pretty great song. Speaking of music, I watched the CMA's last night. Country music--today's country music--gets a bad rap. Some of that stuff kicks ass. And can Carrie Underwood be any more smoking?

...Lastly, in a nostalgic nod, as summer concludes and a new school year begins, I think it would behoove us all to revisit this classic commencement speech which, I just realized, Baz Lurhman, of "Mulin Rouge" fame, had a hit "song" with in 1984. In any event, read, enjoy, and whatever you do, don't forget to practice safe sun..

Wear Sunscreen
by Mary Schmich

Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

...I have a new series of micros, "Please Don't Eat the Fish" up at Red Fez and also here under "Words in Print."

...I sent another piece ("Scallop") to PANK yesterday. I had two others I thought would work. Anyway, fingers crossed. We'll see.

...Watched "Definitely Maybe" again last night. It's a guilty pleasure and how adorable is Isla Fisher?

...I like Jimmy Chen but I don't know if he likes me. Long ago I sent him a friend request but got nothing back, no love, not even a "take a flying leap, len." he's quite talented. this appeared in "thieves jargon," (which I also love) and is one of the most layered, generous and artful pieces of fiction I've ever read:

A Brief Autobiography in Palindromes
by Jimmy Chen


Adamson was not the son of Adams; Adam was not the son of his father; his father was not the son of his father, etc.; a surname is not a sure name; these things we know. I was 19 when I changed my name to Adam Adamson. I put two cardboard boxes full of clothes and cassette tapes into my car and drove off into the sunset like the end of a movie. The credits are still ascending toward the ceiling. As I drove off, my father stayed in the backyard picking autumn leaves out of the pool with kitchen tongs. Mother was gone.


Mother was gone.


One of the cassette tapes was ABBA, a Swedish pop music group known for their aggregate vocal harmonies, or 'wall of sound.' The band's name is an acronym derived from the first letter of each member's name: Agnetha, Benny, Björn, Anni-Frid. I regret buying ABBA deeply. Fortunately I also had some Led Zeppelin.


(Guitar) Jimmy Page; (Drums) John Bonham; (Prom) Adam Adamson.


One suspects there are probably two, that this mastectomy is merely conceptual. Albrecht Durer's rendering (c. 1507) of Eve's was unnatural and uninspired, their porcelain sheen untouchable, untouched. If art aspires to be the manifestation of life, then life is a sack of fat.


(see Tit)


A line of subcompact cars manufactured by Honda; a three-door hatchback introduced in 1972; AM/FM ratio w/ cassette tape; a rudimentary heater; a foam-cushioned plastic trim; two-speed wipers; the possibility of flight; a one-way trip to OVER THERE; the semantic disparity between 'running away' and driving; the wind through the window in my ears.


The first woman created by God in Genesis 1-2. Eve Rochester (c. 1997) is not her real name. Memory corrodes things into a 30-second hopeful commercial. The party was getting 'vodka stupid' so I went out through the back to the side yard by the lemon tree. She was far from beautiful; I had to skin her face with my mind. A skull, denied an expression, is a most earnest thing. "We could go to my place," she said. Her cheek was cadaver hued from the moon, and her breath stayed in the cold air as an apparition with nobody to scare. We graduated, moved to our respective cities, our cell phones caught in the middle, staring at us. I thought of her often, then more often, until I thought of her less.


David Macaluso is the #621,283 ranked full name in Ohio: #621,282 David Ma; #621,283 David Macaluso; #621,284 David Macaroni; David is the #5 ranked first name in Ohio; #4 Michael; #5 David; #6 William.


12:17 P.M. to be exact, when David Macaluso shot himself in the face with a Wii remote. His subsequent life as one 'Adam Adamson' was not marked differently by any new countenance or temperament. If only games were real, he might die from heat-stroke while golfing. If only this were real.


Alprazolam, its trade name Xanax, was first synthesized by Upjohn (now Pfizer). It is covered under U.S. Patent No. 3,987,052, filed on October 29, 1969 and granted on October 19, 1976. Released in 1981, it was the first approved drug for treating anxiety disorders and anxiety associated with moderate depression. Alprazolam may be habit-forming. Alprazolam is habit-forming.


Short for 'sister,' aborted (c. 1978).


(see "A Brief Autobiography in Palindromes" © Jimmy Chen, published by Thieves Jargon, 2009.)


Past tense of do; this is what I did: nothing. I never ran away or found a girl. I never moved out of Mansfield, Ohio. I never actually killed myself. I'm 33 years old, the year my father was when he had me. I am an Analyst IV at Belloch & Blevins Insurance Co. Tonight the TV will burn blue again into the walls. Life has a way of softening and getting blurrier. This is what I didn't do: I didn't drive away from here to OVER THERE; I didn't push my father in the swimming pool; I didn't change my name to Adam Adamson; I didn't go to college and meet a girl named Eve or Anna or Elle; I didn't ever forget my mother no matter how fluid and viscous her interchangeable face became, I didn't swallow the mouthful of pills I put in my mouth and see 'the light' while lying on the bathroom floor; I didn't leave my body and go upwards or downwards.


When Adam was created, he was lonely. Being whole made him incomplete, so God took a part of him and created a woman. Having a piece of him missing somehow made him whole. For seven days everything was perfect. They even fucked monkeys. Then Eve leaved in her groin area and left in her heart. Tadpoles came out and tried to walk. Adam sat by the lake and watched the sunset as the sky grew redder and redder, soon realizing that God probably changed his mind. The flames snapped against the dome of the sky. Adam was made of wax. SO THIS IS HELL would have been a cool t-shirt, but the rule was to stay naked.