Monday, April 30, 2012


…Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden's death/killing.
It brings to mind many things and might be a good time to note that in ten years of wars with Afghanistan and Iraq 6,300 US service men and women have died and we've spent $1.3 trillion.
I've always thought we could cure cancer if we really wanted to.
If we can fork over $1.3 trillion that easily, the same amount spent on cancer research and development would surely bring about a cure.
Just sayin'.

…I've been watching "Nurse Jackie", the Showtime series starring Eddy Falco playing a nurse who's addicted to prescription drugs.  Besides having wonderful characters, it's filled with great ironies.
I realized that most brilliant shows, or the ones I think are brilliant, have that same sensibility:
"Breaking Bad" is about a chemistry teacher with lung cancer who sells meth to pay for his treatment.
"The Sopranos" is about a tough, conflicted mobster who sees a psychiatrist to deal with, among other things, his panic attacks.
"Dexter" is about a serial killer who only kills other serial killers.
"Weeds" is about a suburban mom who sell pot to pay the bills after her husband dies jogging.
And then there's the wonder "Wire" which has all sorts of character ironies.

 …The new Jason Mraz cd is very uneven.  There are a few catchy numbers but some really lousy songs, too.

 …I found my old Whiskeytown discs.  This discovery made me very happy.  I would have Ryan Adams' babies, but I sure hope he and Mandy Moore get busy.  Those kids will have to have some strong pipes.

 …I’m reading, “Catching Fire,” the second “Hunger Games” book which is more or less identical to the first.  There’s a lot to learn from her pacing and plotting.

 …Here are some things I like to get the week started:

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials." Chinese proverb

"The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." Jack London

"The trouble with Facebook is that it turns us all into voyeurs.  It brings out the side of you that's looking for trouble." Annie

 "Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war." John Andrew Holmes

"We are adhering to life now with our last muscle--the heart." Djuna Barnes

 "I shall tell you a great secret, my friend.  Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day." Camus

 "To see, we must stop being in the middle of the picture." Satprem

 "There is luxury in self-reproach.  When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us." Oscar Wilde
"The best portion of a good man's life is the little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” William Wordsworth

"It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him." John Steinbeck

Saturday, April 28, 2012


…I used to work in the corporate world.  For quite a few years I did. 
Because of that, I do some motivational speaking from time to time, and for the last few years I've been mentoring college students.
I like it.  It's fun to teach. 
 The kids are bright and eager and as naïve about things as I was.  Mostly they overcomplicate it or undervalue how simple it is to be success, if even on a limited scale.

…I read Robb Todd's collection, "Steal Me For Your Stories."
I read with Robb in NYC for The Sunday Salon Series and I've heard him read at two other venues.  He's a good guy and is something between an acquaintence and a friend, although we've never spoken on the phone and he doesn't do Facebook, which is hard to believe, especially since he's a writer and Fbk is important for getting one's work out there.
He's a great writer and his pieces are funny, gritty, and often nasty, twisted sometimes.  Often I couldn't figure out what a story meant, yet the prose was sharp and interesting throughout.
You can tell he lives in NY because he writes a lot about subways and trains and bars and sex with moody women.  Plus his phone is always prominent in his pieces, either buzzing in his pocket or sending him strange texts.
The physical book is small, as maybe it should be coming from Tiny Hardcore Press.  It's not quite the size of our hand if you've unclenched your fist.

 …I started John Green's "The Fault of Our Stars."
John is a Young Adult author, and quite a famous one, too.
His book, "An Abundance of Katherines" about a guy who dates 27 different girls named Katherine is one of my favorites, although his other, "Looking For Alaska" is the most famous.
So far the new one is immensely readable, though a lot more juvenile than the others.
It features a cast of 12 to 17 year olds who all suffer from some form of cancer and attend the same support group, which is a clever idea.
I'm hoping it gets better, but like "The Hunger Games," it sucks you in with a simple story that moves like a current.

…I thought this was interesting:
Countries with the largest percentage of consumers downloading e-books:
1. --24% India
2. --21% Australia
3. --21% United Kingdom
4. --20% USA
5. --18% Brazil

…And this:
A recent Ohio State U. study found that "on average, men tink about sex 34 times a day, or rougly once or twice and hour, compared to 19 times a day for women.  Also, men's minds were occupied by food almost as much as by sex."

…I like these:

"To be alive--is Power--
Existence--in itself--
Without a further function--
-Emily Dickinson

"An accident isn't necessarily ever over." Diane Williams

"Everybody can master a grief but those who have it." Shakespeare

"Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair." Kierkegaard

"We all hope, modesty enough, to get through life with being murdered." Martin Amis

Friday, April 27, 2012


 …I wrote a bad book.
I wrote a novel last year.  It was a long haul.
I wrote it and rewrote it and then edited it some more.
A week ago I realized that somehow the physical manuscript had become tampered with.  I might have punched a button by accident.  Or something like that.
The indentations all disappeared.
So, to correct this mishap, I spent several hours indenting each paragraph until my hand went numb.
Along the way, I found many typos I'd managed to miss in the first three versions/edits.
Along the way, I re-visited those words and discovered that quite a lot of them were drivel.
I learned the novel was really not that good.

 And so I pouted for a few hours.  I got selfish  I wallowed in self-pity.
Then I mentally pulled myself out of the funk and realized I just needed to write a better book.
That is what I'll do.

 …Here are some things for the weekend, all from Robb Todd's collection, "Steal Me For Your Stories":

 “You know what is great about the sun?  It doesn’t give a shit about your problems.”
“I wonder what I make for this world that is useful other than problems for people.”
“Anger is almost always useless.”
“Nothing makes me want you more than you wanting me.”
“The only women who want me are the women who hate themselves.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


...I received an email/query asking if I’d be interested in a project they’re doing for Occidental Park here in Seattle whereby some authors write about an item (or objects) in the park and then those pieces get posted around the park as a way of having people slow down and make a closer observation of the area.
It seemed like a cool idea, and I vaguely know the girl who asked me (who seems pretty cool, as well), that I'd agree to do it (I’m not good at saying No.)
So, I wrote three poems.
I wrote them in fifteen minutes.
That’s how it mostly happens with me. If I struggle to write something, I usually come up with crap. But if it gushes out, I can create an ocean of words and most of the time it’s not too bad.
One of the poems is about these fantastic old trees in the park that people sometimes dress up with Sues-styled sweaters. The second is about the cobblestoned walkways. And the other is about the whole square and a cute little girl:
Here they are:

Occidental Trees

We lean in to learn your stories,
the ones you tell about mothers you miss,
or a wish you might have made one dawn
when wonder still held a certain promise and
rainbows could keep you captive.
Our backs are made of bark,
sometimes sheathed with only the brittle knots of moss,
other times wrapped in dog clothes—
striped stockings, woolen scarves or Crayola-colored dickies.
But we were here first,
us and the earth below the cobble stones you walk on.
We were here before the great fire and explosions,
when Yessler was floating logs to and from the pier.
We are Seattle’s sacred sons
and years from now we will still be standing,
albeit bent from trying to tell you the secrets
 of our long and happy history.

Accidental Wealth
If you look close enough you will see how alike we are—
our backs and faces worn from wear,
edges smooth or broken from
the pressures of lives well-lived.
Some of us bare scars-- spray-painted graffiti claiming “Jamie loves Fran 4Ever,”
a wad of gum stuck between our stone vertebra like
a pale eye missing its pupil.
Just now a little girl in a floppy hat
finds a coin in one of our crevices,
holds it up to the light, grinning wide,
letting the Seattle sun show her how rich she is.

What One Might Find

The buildings bearded with bushy ivy.
Streets a waffle iron.
Trees leaning in to eavesdrop.
Ancient totems, tall and prophetic.
Steel firemen looking almost regal.
A dozen tourists with their hip holsters.
Pigeons pecking for stray gold.
Gulls scrolling the sky.
Benches for the weary or wondering.
And somewhere among all the clatter and chatter a new couple holding hands,
  saying, “This is forever.”
  saying, “This is home.”

Monday, April 23, 2012


…I've been listening to The Kooks. For a very kooky name, they sure are good. Also, the new Shins is a shimmering piece of work.

…Tax time is here.
Did you notice on the filing form that there's a provision for "Parents of a kidnapped child?"

Here are 10 Life tips from Rumi:
1. Challenge Fear
"Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious."
2. Be Bold
"Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth."
3. Have Gratitude
"Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life."
4. Take Action
"Why should I stay at the bottom of a well, when a strong rope is in my hand?"
5. Have Faith
"As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears."
6. Embrace Setbacks
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?"
7. Look Inside
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
8. Learn From Suffering
"The wound is the place where the Light enters you."
9. Don't Be Concerned With What Others Think Of You
"I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think."
10. Do What You Love
"Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love."

…The other day I came upon a 13 word story I wrote.
It was called "Terrain" about a couple in bed and the girl has physical scars she's afraid to show her boyfriend, but then, with the lights out, she does.
I flushed out the story, making it 350 words and changing the title to "The Truth About Ugliness."
This is the first paragraph:

In darkness, without mirrors, you finally start to unhinge, sharing every secret, saying, “Here,” then, “There,” now, “That one. Feel it?” Like this, though, even to a blind man, they are no more frightening than bisected worms.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


…In entertainment news, Matt Lauer inked a $25 million-per-year deal to remain on NBC's Today show while Snoop Dog announced (this is true) he's releasing a smokable songbook of his lyrics, with pages that can be used as rolling papers.
Madonna tweeted to Britney: "please come on stage and kiss me again." while Ryan Gosling, who broke up a Manhattan street fight last year, just the other day saved a woman from getting hit by a taxi.

…You know how they say men get better with age and, well, women don't? Not true. Case in point is Julia Louise-Dreyfus. She looks fantastic. One hundred percent better than Jerry Sienfeld, George, Kramer or Newman. Maybe more than one hundred percent better.

…Last week some recreational parks people stocked the lake outside my window with 8,000 fish. Today long-necked ducks are dive-bombing the water like they've won the lottery, which I guess they have. It's quite a sight. There are dozens of the birds.

…In the latest issue of Newsweek the featured a large photograph of a man running down a street on fire.
There was a crowd lined up down the sides. Several people were taking photographs of the burning man.
27 year old Jamphel Yeshi had set himself on fire to denounce Chinese President Hu Jintao's impending visit to India. Yeshi died two days later from severe burns.
Almost 30 copy-cats have self-immolated this year.
I can understand the passion, but how can that be worth it?

…Why do we still have the death penalty? I don't get it.
Most executions in 2011:
#1 --China, 1,000+
#2 --Iran, 360
#3 --Saudi Arabia
#4 -- Iraq, 68
#5 --USA, 43

…Of the five most affordable cars, only one is made in America

…So far American Airlines has cut 14,200 jobs. How does a company get so bloated that it can afford to reasonably eliminate that many positions?

… A New York Times article says that every U.S. death affects, on average, four other people profoundly. Of those affected survivors, something like 15 percent can "barely function." And this decisive suffering--which lasts and last, and offers "no redemptive value"--has been given a name, to distinguish it from what used to be called sorrow: "Complicated Grief Disorder."
-taken from Darin Strauss's memior, "Half a Life."

Thursday, April 19, 2012


…Here are some interesting and albeit, random, things I recently read about:

-A toy grenade was to blame for an evacuation at a building near Ground Zero. The bomb squad was called in to investigate. The gag-style gift was mounted on a plaque that said, “Complaint department: Take a number.”

-A man was arrested after his son brought dozens of heroin bags to school for Show N Tell.

-The most recent Census date, from 2010, finds that about 43% of mothers with children under 18 and under were stay at home moms.
(I don’t take political stances here, but I’ll go on the record as saying I’m a democrat. I do so, because I find the comments below asinine. As a parent, I understand and appreciate the sacrifices it takes to raise children.)
Yet Ann Romney’s decision to stay at home with her five (5) sons—cited by a Democratic strategist who said she “actually never worked a day in her life” sparked Romney to retort: “Believe me, it was hard work.”

-61% of the lower 48 states are “abnormally dry” or in drought conditions.

-The average cost of a night at the high school prom is $1,078. (and, according to Seth Meyer, from Saturday Night Live, that doesn’t even include the cost of raising the baby.

-65% of all people think that Social Security will be the major source of their income in retirement. (Really? How far is a few hundred dollars a month going to take you?)

-Crushes, by the Numbers (According to Mens Health):
69 –Percentage of guys whose first crush was on one of their classmates
18 --Percentage who owned a Britney Spears poster in their youth
1 in 2 –Number who suffered through their puppy love in silence (that was always me.)
75 --Percentage of men who tend to fall for their female friends
75 --Percentage who’ve friended a former crush on Facebook
10 --Percentage who have a thing for a current Words with Friends opponent (this is not me.)
10 --Percentage of men who say Mila Kunis is their biggest celebrity crush (mine is the other MK, Minka Kelly)
1 --Number of months the average guy carries a torch before giving up.
18 --Percentage of men who say they’ll carry their torches until they die
7 --Percentage who crushed on their teacher
Ryan Reynolds --Average guy’s biggest guy crush

-And lastly, they came out with a listing of the worst jobs you can have. Here are the top five:
#5. –Newspaper reporter (you’ve got to be kidding me.)
#4. –Oil rig worker (makes sense.)
#3. –Enlisted military soldier (definitely makes sense and should probably be #1.)
#2. –Dairy Farmer
#1. --Lumberjack

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


…I’m home.
My four days in NY were, as usual, pretty fantastic.

…The reading at Jimmy’s went really well. I went first, wasn’t really nervous. Read eight very short pieces, including some poetry. I am improving, but can be much better. It comes down to little things, like knowing the pieces well enough to be able to find the right cadence, using gestures where appropriate, looking up at the audience often—that sort of thing. It doesn’t help that I have to use readers. Yikes.
Sara Lippmann was a wonderful hostess. The venue was cool. Jimmy’s is in NoHo, in a walk-down bar. My friend, Julie Innis read and was funny as hell. I met Jurgen Fauth, Fictionaut founder, who read from his novel, “Kino.” Myfanwy Collins read from her novel, “Echololation.” And Robb Todd read from his story collection.
It was a fantastic group to be with, and the room was packed.

…The first night I was there I went to my friend, Deborah Henry’s book launch for her novel, “The Whipping Club” at the swanky Library Hotel. That was a lot of fun, seeing Deb and meeting some other people.

…I did a lot of walking around. One of my favorite things in NY is to people watch and to just generally take in the environment.
So much happens in NY, sometimes (most of the time) all at once.

…On Sunday there was an Iranian Pride parade near my hotel. Who knew there were so many Iranians in NY? Lots of old guys holding flags. Some swirling young girls in authentic Iranian garb. There was a flamboyant gay guy working the crowd on the sidelines. (I don’t think it’s okay to be gay in Iran.)
The day before there’d been a Scottish Pride parade with many kilted, bag-piped people in rows and rows.

…In China town it smelled like rot and raw fish. There were lots of fish heads for sale, along with Lotus root and other strange, wooden-looking vegetables for sale in carts, dried mushrooms that looked like the dislodged eyeballs of dead ogres. Customers seemed to really dig those.

…While eating in Little Italy, a tiny, praying mantis man, hunched over, wearing a thick flannel sports coat in the 80 degree weather also wore a baseball cap with FUCK OFF printed on the bill. His expression was neither angry nor bemused, so I suspect he didn’t know what his hat said.

...At a busy intersection near Union Square another man stood in the middle of the crosswalk, completely asleep as cabs and car horns honked at him.

…Walking through a Park Avenue neighborhood at night I notices signs everywhere warning you not to honk and explaining that should you choose to sound your horn you’d be subjected to a $350 fine.

…All along Madison and 5th Avenue there were other signs saying, “No Standing Anytime.” I think they meant, No Standing Still. And what about lying down? Was that okay?

…Everywhere people were speaking foreign languages, mostly French, but Italian and Spanish and Ukrainian (I think), Cantonese and bad English.

…Lots of tall leggy models in oversized sunglasses and skin-tight leggings trolled the streets looking like they had somewhere important to be.

…Homeless people asked for money. Men--spray painted metallic blue--were dresses as Lady Liberty, complete with a gold torch.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse were there, too, so many in one place that poor kids were confounded, like seeing several Santa’s in one sitting.

…I saw James Franco at a book signing at Strand Books. He was mobbed by teenagers and poor James looked beat-down and exhausted with at least a hundred teens waiting for photos and autographs.

…The streets, almost always, were mobbed. Walking became a passive-aggressive endeavor.

…It was expensive--$10 for bottle water—and warm and manic and I loved every minute of it.
You would have, too.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


…I’m one of those.
I love NY.
I don’t understand her, entirely, but I am smitten
She is the date you meet when you think, I will never completely comprehend her, she’s endlessly fascinating, but won’t it be wonderful trying?

Here are some random questions I have for New York City:

-How do you function? With ten million people stuffed inside your boroughs, how do not explode or implode?
-Why aren’t more people killed? With tensions a little higher than your average town, why aren’t there more rage killings? And why aren’t more people hit by the staggering number of vehicles on the road?
-How can one mayor handle such a big place?
-What’s your proudest accomplishment?
-How often do you think of 9/11?
-Does it worry you at all that the new World Trade Center will attract more terrorist attacks?
-What are your thoughts about “Occupy Wall Street?”
-Who is your favorite NY-based actor/actress? Singer?
-Do you even care that Tim Tebow is now a NY Jet?
-Why are you so mean to New Jersey? Why are you that insecure?
-How is it even possible to raise children in your environs?
-Of all the ones you’ve created, what’s your very favorite love story?
--Central Park is a beaut. How have you managed to not turn all the acreage over to the capitalists for development?
-What are the things that make you most sad? Is it the pollution in The Hudson? Is it your homeless brood? Is it mortgage rates or the price of parking?
-What are your top three favorite restaurants? Top three bars? Favorite place to people watch?
-Does it even matter whose governor?
-Do ever feel like taking a very long nap?
-Do you ever feel guilty charging $6.00 for a Kit Kat, $6.50 with tax?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


…It’s very early Thursday, around 3:30 am.
In a few hours I’ll be on a plane headed to my favorite city in the world, New York.
If you’re near there on Sunday at 7 pm, come to Jimmy’s 43 at 43 East 7th Street and hear me read. Also reading will be Julie Innis, Myfanwy Collins, Jurgen Fauth, Sheldon Compton, and Robb Todd.
I’m very excited. I’m not really nervous.
Not yet anyway.

…Here are some things we should ponder at least for a moment:

…Global warming, or coincidence?
For the quarter--Jan through March-- the US temperate was 42 degrees Fahrenheit, or a whopping six degrees higher than the long term average.
During that time, 15,800 different warm temperature records were recorded.
At least nine of the snowiest U.S. cities had less than 60% of their average snowfall this year.

The C.E.O. of Viacom made $43,077,942 last year
The C.E.O. of Honeywell made on $35 Million
And the CEO of Disney made a mere $31 Million

72 police officers were killed in 2011, a 25% increase from the year before, and a 75% increase from 2008

US Population
In 1940: 132.2 Million
In 2010: 308.7 Million
Percentage with bachelor degree
1940: 5%
2010: 28%
What women earn for every dollar a man earns:
1940: 62 cents per dollar
2010: 74 centers per dollar
Median home value (adjusted for inflation)
1940: $38,700
2010: $179,000
Women and Men who've never married:
1940: 43.9% Men, 28.9 Women
2010: 65.6% Men, 55.6% Women
Homes heated with coal/wood:
1940: 78%
2010: 2%

Which city has the best pizza?
41% -- NY
39% -- Chicago
9% -- New Haven
5% -- San Francisco

70% -- Percentage of prisoners granted parole if they had morning hearings.
10% -- Percentage granted parole if they had afternoon hearing.

When you consider some of the decisions you've made in the past that might come to light, do you think you could run for public office?
No --62% All
No --58% Men
No --66% Women

2/3rd's of a shark's brain is programmed to process smell

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


…Today a fortuitous email ended up in my "Junk" mail folder that said:

"This is the Most Effective And Safest Way To Enlarge Your Manhood. Get Incredible Gains Even While You SLEEP! Gains Of 3-4 Inches Are Not Uncommonm, Try for yourself Risk Free 100% Guaranteed to Work!!"
(Yes, they misspelled “Uncommon.”)
Most of the time I win the Netherlands Lotto or else PayPal tells me my account has been recently used by nefarious sources and that I need to immediately resend all my personal information (Social Security number included) in order to rectify the problem. Do people really do that?

…Here’s another that just showed up:

Subject: Verfication From the FBI
This message is regarding the verification about the prize you won from sweepstakes. Get back to us.

Special Agent Brian Lamkin
Federal Bureau of Investigation
(They misspelled “Verification.” Which leads me to believe crooks aren’t very bright.)

…The other day I got a rejection on a piece I sent out on February 9th, 2010. That’s two thousand TEN. Almost two years ago from today. Mind you, this wasn’t The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly but just a very small online literary journal.
I guess the upside is, they did at least respond. Better that than nothing.

…It’s a little sad, for some reason, that when you type in “letter of…” on Google you get the cue “Letter of resignation” versus “Letter of recommendation,” which is what I was looking for.

…Sometimes I wonder things that other people would likely think are random or strange.
For instance, I often wonder who gets to name a town, or the city streets in a town.
I wonder who gets to decide what is a swear word and what isn’t.
Why, for example, is Fuck a bad word, but Copulate acceptable?
Why is Shit dirty and not defecate?
Dick not Penis?
And so on…

…Here are some things I like:

"Each one of us is wounded. It's just that some wounds are on the inside instead of the outside." SK

"The end is where we start from.” T.S. Eliot

"I never know how much of what I say is true." Bette Midler

"A good meal ought to begin with hunger." French Proverb

"Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first." Arthur Schopenhauer

Monday, April 9, 2012


...Here are two older poems that appeared in an online literary journal out of Mexico City called Ofi Press:


Nobody sings.
We feel our way through dark clouds and cracks.
I remember you wanted to love me.
Those were full days,
cherry nickels.
When your Toyota backfired,
we bawled from laughter.

Now the western winds are spreading
wild fires
and we are confused pedestrians,
weary from walking the same space,
treading foul air,
disobeying every road sign
on our way to ruin.


We take the photo in the same place each year,
by the grand fountain,
same positions,
shortest to tall
as if there’s nothing else to mark the time
but our slacking skins
and a different set of sweaters.

We are his daughters.
We sang sweet notes and invented excuses for being women
instead of ladies.
Nights we fought in silence with locked doors
and shattered mirrors.
“No one got hurt,” we’d always say.
A lawyer, a lesbian, a surgeon and one hack.

The photographer prompts, “On three, say…Father!”
and we do
because Mom’s asked us,
because she’s standing there
remembering him again,
loving Dad like we should have.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


…This was in the local paper. I found it bizarrely interesting.

"Looking for a sugar daddy? It might help to strategize. And it might help to look in Seattle.
Apparently, the city is one of the top cities in the country with the best chance of finding a daddy. And it has some of the most generous daddies nationwide.”

That’s according to "Seeking Arrangement", a dating site that matches daddies with “babies,” which released a ranking Wednesday of cities with the highest number of daddies per guys. The average daddy is 39 years old, makes $263,500 a year, is worth $5.6 million and spends $4,300 a month on a baby, says the site. (Numbers are based on self-reporting).

…Another interesting story involves Don Sammons, who is auctioning off the town of Buford, Wyoming, population 1.
Don is the only resident of Buford, which had 10 acres of land, including a post office, gas station and sign declaring it was incorporated in the year 1866.
Minimum bid for Buford, WY starts at $100,000.

…Maybe I should buy the town. I keep winning lotteries. I think I've hit the Netherlands jackpot at least twelve times this year already. And I won some in France, too. Or so the messages say. And I've been getting emails from Iraqis, Chinese, Bulgarians and sweet-sounding Christian ladies who all find me "incredibly trustworthy" and want me to partner with them buy "giving me" $15 million or so.
Isn't that so nice of all these people?

…Speaking of money and the Chinese, that country now has 960,000 millionaires. Really?

…35 million Americans suffer from mold and pollen allergies. I am one of them.

…I like these things on the weekend:

"Pretending not to love you was the hardest thing I've ever done." Ezra

"I prefer a thief who knows he is a thief." Maree Scarlett

"The Swedish word for crying and masturbating simultaneously is gråtrunka." Kirsty Logan

"We must take the risk of creating ourselves and get to know and like ourselves--this strange and wonderful creature."

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Readers of flash fiction are in debt to whoever imagined the literary smorgasbord that is “Shut Up/Look Pretty”—select writings by Lauren Becker, Kirsty Logan, Erin Fitzgerald, Michelle Reale and Amber Sparks.

In the collection, we meet the Navy Seals of female short fiction—five of today’s sharpest Indie writers. Never mind issues of gender. That they are women only matters because their writing decimates. They scale walls and leap off skyscrapers. People get hurt and saved, knocked down, let down, expunged, reincarnated, maimed, mimicked, celebrated and, of course, loved.

Each author takes roughly 60 pages to lay traps, imprison people, splay their pain, thus culminating in a generous book that logs in at 300 pages—rare in today’s envelope-thin story collections.

The assembled works are at once both a charm bracelet and a cluster bomb, requiring individual attention. To be sure, each author brings their own distinct voice with them, yet as a whole, the book blends together the way standalone hues also accent the greater image in a painting.

Lauren Becker’s writing reads like classical music, symphonic and precise, building with undertones of intensity towards a sharp crescendo. She uses alliteration and a clever, urgent cadence, sticking every ending with a line so poetic and thoughtful that one pauses, almost reverentially. “Even as I talk you out of me, I am doing the same.” She writes about being second-guessed, passed over, trampled and used. We want to know who these lovers and hypocrites are. She makes us mandate that these louts explain why they behave so selfishly, even while feeling a twinge of guilt ourselves for their similarity to our own lives. More than once, Becker injects surprises into her writing, as in a sister being ejected from her brother’s wedding at the demand of the bride.

Erin Fitzgerald has a sharp, often dark, wit. Her characters are the life of the party even when they’re not, as in a wonderful piece that is comprised entirely of brief letters sent to cell mate 2409756, who just happens to be Lindsay Lohan:

If I ever move away, which seems likely, I am taking a chunk of my driveway with me. It’s what holds me up when I say goodbye to the people I love, and I never see them again.

“Hi Linds:
Keep remembering that yesterday was a good day.

“Dear Lindsay:
Scavenging ensures we remember more than we forget.
I’m just saying, Erin”

The paint on the walls probably doesn’t have lead in it. Go ahead and chip at it.

Not a piece disappoints.

Kirsty Logan’s sections are all ribs belonging to the same lung, to the same messed up bards and lasses who are having one hell of a time not only getting sober, but making something of their lives. The cast of these interlocking stories are all connected by the Scottish band Black Brick. We’re introduced to characters as uniquely drawn as their names: Tibor and Francis Faskally, to name a couple. Her stories are “This is Spinal Tap” meets “High Fidelity” meets a whole lot of sex and drugs and drinking. Hey, it’s only Rock n’ Roll, and it’s a blast.

Michelle Reale takes you out at the knees. Sometimes her pieces kick you in the scrotum (if you have one.) But mostly Reale’s writing is gorgeous, spare when it needs to be, lush when the ambiance requires it. Often her pieces are open-ended, as if you’re being dropped through a suddenly sprung trap door, allowing you to come to your own conclusion about how you got where you are and how. Other times she slams the door in your face without apology. Her stories soar, sway and dip into the dark crevices of dysfunctional relationships, usually helmed by a domineering mother figure that very well may resembled our own, or another mother we know well.

Amber Sparks is fascinated with death, or rather death’s hold over us. Her creepy ghost story that opens “A Great Dark Sleep” is about far more than ghosts. We are forced to tangle with questions of guilt and conscience. We want to protect the orphaned little girl, who like the boy in “The Sixth Sense” is kept captive by flocks of interloping specters that have stolen and manipulated her father’s heart. In other stories a wife kills a husband who then turns into an angel and we get the gory pleasure of watching a man’s death and decay from a front row seat.

Ultimately, “Shut Up/Look Pretty” is so flush with radiant story-telling that upon conclusion the reader is actually left a little winded, though immensely satisfied.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


…"I don't want to make money. I just want to be wonderful." Marilyn Monroe

…I read this article.
I liked it.
Here it is (condensed) from Larry Feign in Writer Magazine:

1. Don't Argue (they're ignorant)
2. Pity Them (remember, they're ignorant)
3. Ask Them For Money (when they say you'll starve)
4. Refuse Their Money
5. Frighten Them (say something like, "What if I become a doctor and end up operating on you?")
6. Change The Subject (they won't notice)
7. Offer Them A Role (in your novel, story, screenplay)
8. Flee
9. Use Your Rage to Write
10. Laugh
--Larry Feign, Writer Magazine

…I run. Not as much as I used to, but I still do.
And I get "Runner's World" magazine, not because there's anything new to learn about the sport, but mainly to keep inspired so that I don't slack off and get lazy.
In the latest issue there's a small article about Keith Wood, now 83, who will be the oldest runner in this year's Boston Marathon. He ran his qualifying time in 4:29, just a few minutes slower than I ran my last race. And Keith only ran his first marathon at age 72 and has since covered the distance nearly 40 times.
There's hope for all of us.

…Apparently the average household credit card balance in America is $16,000. Really? Holy hell.

…In yesterday's USA Today they asked: Is it ok to cheat on your income taxes?
85%--Not at all
8% --As much as possible
6% --A little
3% --Don't know

…You have to sell 5-7,000 books in a week to make it on The NY Times Bestseller List top 10
2-3 million to be a Bestseller
"The Help" has sold 10 M

…I like these:

-"How can it be a conspiracy if everyone's in on it?" Anon

-"Every word is guilty until proven innocent." Kira Peikoff

-"I wanted beyond hope or dreaming to be a writer." Sophie's Choice, William Styron

-"Novel writing is like living in an airless, depressing marriage to the same ugly person for years." Russel Banks

Sunday, April 1, 2012


…I've been watching "Weeds" the last few weeks, zipping through the seasons.
At first I was not taken with the show. It seemed too kitschy, a little too "Desperate Housewives."
I've definitely changed my mind.
Mary-Louise Parker's character has to be the quirkiest I've ever seen in a television show.
That's her up there in the photo, if you didn't know it.
I've sort of got a crush on her.
I know, I know--that's a sexy picture.
There were sexier photos, but I liked this one.
If you want a good laugh, watch "Weeds." I laugh pretty hard at least once every episode, plus they throw in some things you don't see coming.

…(I was going to use another word for "laugh" in the last sentence above, because repeating the same word is a pet peeve of mine when I see other writers do it. Seems lazy. But my other options--"guffaw," "chortle" and even "chuckle" just didn’t fit.)

…I'm listening to Pete Yorn at this moment. His old stuff. It's good. I wonder what Pete is doing right now.

…When I read something really good, I like to send the author a note and tell them how much their work moved me. About 65% of the time, I get a note back. It's the other 35% that sort of floors me.
I finished reading Black Fox Literary Magazine. There were some great pieces and photos in it. I wanted to send notes but couldn't figure out who they were on Facebook. That should be easier, or maybe writers/photographers shouldn't be so restrictive about their FB pages.

…At this writing no one has won the Mega Millions lottery. It's at $640 Million.
Here are some interesting facts related to this:
--You are 176 times more likely to be hit by lightning than win
--You are 3.8 times more likely to be killed by fireworks than win
--And 9 times more likely to face death from a TV that falls on your head.
--It would take 12,800 years for the average American household to earn $640 Million
--The US government spends that same amount every day in just 1 hour and 29 minutes.

…Here are a few things I like for today:

"nobody, not even the rain has such small hands." ee cummings

"I am a clock that winds down." Kathy Fish

"Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional
glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful
scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point." Harold Melchart

"Every forward step we take we leave some phantom of ourselves behind." John Spalding