Saturday, January 22, 2011

An Award Goes to John's Head

Today I'm flattered to accept the "Creative Genius Blogger Award." This was cooked up by Deanna Schrayer and has been disseminating around the internet. Rachel Blackbirdsong, Linda Watsila and Stephen Book have all bestowed it upon me. This cannot be an accident. Rather, all three knew the others would give it to me and wanted to co-verify my staggering talent. Their redundancy would be humbling to a lesser being. Fortunately, I am only a greater one - one describable as, perhaps, a "creative genius." Yes.

The typical rules of this blog game are to pass the award on to several more people. In this case, it seems folly. Surely no one can be as worthy of this as me, and therefore passing it on will offend the recipients with what can only be interpreted as sarcasm. Now yes, I could say Hayao Miyazaki or Guillermo Del Toro are creative geniuses and this would be true. But I would be saying it as though they were my peers. There are great novelists and classical composers, and then there is the man who writes dialogues about choking on a glass of water in front of his nephews. These men would be mortified if I were to pretend they had yet reached my breathless artistic heights. I fear if I pass this on to anyone that they will destroy themselves in a sudden spiral of existential angst at even a cursory comparison drawn between themselves and my ouvre.

Because I am to a degree a prescriptionist, I cannot receive this award without sending it back out into the world. But I must stress that everyone listed here should take the award with the utmost half-heartedness. Do not seriously compare yourself, your works, or your ultimate world value to mine. It will crush you. For the sake of your life and my humanity, please only glance at the following list. If you see your first name, then it is already too late. Please, if you see the first letter of your first name, let this be enough and get away from the computer as quickly as possible.

1. Danielle La Paglia. A well-read and perfectly decent writer with generally symmetrical body features. Based on statistics I made up a short while ago, the vast majority of men and free-thinking women would sleep with her, experiencing minimal regret afterward.

2. Tony Noland. He is one of my favorite #fridayflash writ-- No, I must hold back for his sake. Ahem. Tony Noland is a passable human being by someone's standards. Society can ask no more.

3. Michael Solender, usually known around these parts as Mr. Solender, is one of the few souls to attempt daily posting. It is an immortal feat and thus he sometimes succumbs to farming daily spaces out to guest writers. Doubtless his greatest act in life has been to frequently choose to request I be that guest writer. God save the Solenders.

This concludes the blog-humping portion of this post. However, there is one vital thing that still needs reckoning.

I am taking this opportunity to declare war upon anyone who did not grant this award upon me. Clearly you hate me and resent my work, and thus must be dealt with. Brutally. If you're uncertain as to whether my dark fleets will arrive at your door tomorrow morning, prepared to slaughter you and rejoice in the lamentations of your women, give your blog a cursory glance. Has it given out this award to "John Wiswell?" It doesn't matter if you haven't gotten the award yet and can't give it. That's hardly an excuse to avoid praising so important a man. Possibly you can invent your own award and give it to me before my privateers arrive. It will not avert the brunt of their wrath, but may deflect some miscellaneous property damage.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: The Danni

Many moons ago, I promised a young(ish) girl a story about a six-fingered guitarist and his guitar, The Danni. Inspiration to actually write it took an age and a day. It doesn’t have the humor or the wit she probably wanted, but I gave it my best. Enjoy.

In the lull between songs, Randy wandered over to his vocalist. He spoke in a loud hush.

“This next is my last, kid. Time to find myself one of those keepers and mosey out.”

“You sure? It’s been an honor.” Vic gestured to the crowd. “I didn’t know middle-aged women had so much juice.”

“They got more than life, but I can’t play all night anymore.” He gave Vic a six-fingered pat on the ass. “You kids did fine, and you got a good throat. Just get the band to take us into Fire Itch.”

Of course he picked Fire Itch. Two bass solos guaranteed to get as many feminine eyes on him as possible. Randy left his vocalist, waving his cowboy hat to a shriek of crowd joy. He held it over the heart of his suit jacket, that pinstripe job that he’d worn ever since Secondary Colors came out.

“So this next song’s going to play our guest bassist off …”

Three thousand hitch pitched voices went, “Awww.”

“Maybe you’ve heard it. It’s about this thing you can’t scratch alone…”

Three thousand hitch pitched voices lost their God-damned minds.

Randy was laughing as he picked up The Danni, the bass guitar he’d travelled with since Secondary Colors got stale. The faceplate was painted to look like a woman’s bare bottom, her spine running up beneath the strings. The way he cradled it was downright obscene.

Vic rested his throat through the intro, since even with industrial speakers nobody could hear them play over how ovations and ovulations of the crowd. Daisies and roses bounced off Randy’s polished city slicker shoes. He just waved like he was embarrassed, and when the wave didn’t cause him to miss so much as a fret, they went even crazier. Bouquets were touching down less than sixty seconds into the song.

The lyrics were basic and the double entendre kind of chaffed, but so many people singing along gave Vic a rush. So he belted out how he itched when they met, and how he itched when she walked out, and how he itched… and stared off blankly as that first bass solo kicked in.

A pair of panties slingshotted onstage and bounced off Randy’s chest. He caught them on his second pinky and kept playing. Fingers at least fifty-five years old flew faster than Vic’s could right now.

The drummer led them into the second verse. Vic followed with his lips, eyes trying to follow Randy’s gaze. The old goat ignored sleeting wadded dollar bills and errant bouquets, staring through the glitz and making personal eye contact with everyone his glaucoma permitted.

Vic faded back as Randy rose into the second solo, trying to figure out who there was this mythical “keeper” Randy had mentioned. He seemed mostly keen on the middle-agers, old enough to have thought he was the shit when they were in high school. Seemed a shame to Vic since there was a crop of new high-schoolers staring at him right now.

Randy slammed down thrice for the last chords, reverberating through the building. He held out the six-fingered hand like Jesus on the cross, the other cradling The Danni’s bum. More flowers, more panties, and a hotel key card pinged off his chest.

“That the keeper, boss?”

“No. That’s normal.”

Randy shook his head and let the card lie on the stage. People chanted thank-you, thank-you-ran-dee, bless-the-dan-nee, and far less comprehensible but nonetheless positive sentiment. A couple more hotel key cars whizzed along. Then a long plastic tube clattered across one of his shoes. Vic grimaced.

“Is that a catheter?”

"More than that, kid.” Randy reached down and picked up the device between his thumb and second pinky. He waved it to the audience until he spied the owner. He tipped his hat. “It’s a keeper. Mostly about talking at this age, and that’s going to be a hell of a conversation.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Triple Time Travel

Time travel actually was discovered many centuries ago. In one of life's great paradoxes it was discovered simultaneously by the ancient Egyptians, ancient Mayans, and a couple of very bored 17th century British children. All three met up at precisely the same non-time, hurtling towards the revelations of the future. They arrived at the first great ripple in time, a mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, and skidded over a sea of months, crashing into a snow bank. They bickered over whether human-made global warming could have caused such a snow bank while the children perused culture. They found a present where intimate diaries were supplanted by the Facebook Wall. The dominant musicians, a Justin Bieber and one Jonas Brothers, were in a feud that consisted of accusing one another of femininity. And the president was a Nazi for wanting public health care, and some woman in a red blazer was a Nazi for shooting a moose, and some principal who disapproved of his students rutting in the bathroom was a Nazi for his haircut. They had to travel back in time a little to understand what a Nazi was. After the discovery, they took their technology further back. They've spent a paused eternity playing practical jokes on dimetrodons. This is the most you'll ever hear about it, though, since inter-chronal machines don't fossilize well and these travelers like time to themselves.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rejection of a "High Quality" Story That's "not all that good"

I've eaten a lot of rejection letters. It's part of a literary career, and authors should be grateful for any degree of actual human response as opposed to automated rejections. This one baffled me to the point where I have to share it.

The dissonance between their editorial readers and the automated letter is a thing to behold. I've redacted the names because I'm not angry with them; I'll likely submit again. Okay, some of the time I'm angry, but the rest of the time I'm snickering.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Inspired by a coughing fit

“Caro-ach! Car… Carol, little help!”

“See kids? Doing two things are once makes you stupid.”

“What the H-ugh.”

“Uncle John was walking and drinking water at the same time. Now he’s coughing. Do you hear how bad that sounds?”


“K-k-come on.”

“Do you want to be stupid like Uncle John?”


“I taught you to tie your shoes, you ungrateful little…”

“Now go sit down at the table while you eat, like adults. I need to get your uncle a sippy cup.”

“Why do I come to this house?”

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Might As Well" Recordings

We had a wonderful response to the "Might As Well" challenge. Max Cantor, Nathanael Sylva, Catherine Russell, Nicholas Sabin, Cassie Nichols, Icy Sedgwick, Annie Evett and Tony Noland all submitted recordings.

Max Cantor is a computer programmer. He hosted the original Bathroom Monologues and gave me the audio player you're about to use.

Mr. Cantor's reading.

Nathaniel Sylva is a professional actor living in New England. He's unfairly more handsome than most of us. Scorn him as you listen to his talent.

Mr. Sylva's reading.

Catherine Russell is a writer who frequently participates in #fridayflash and #spokensunday. I can't help but call her Gany, which makes less and less sense over time. She does a weekly Writing Niche podcast on her site.

Ms. Russell's reading.

Nicholas Sabin is a philosopher, and therefore more qualified to say words like "tautologically" and  "epistemologically" than most of us. He once went as Ludwig Wittgenstein for a Halloween. Cringe at his intellectual acumen while you listen.

Mr. Sabin's reading.

Icy Sedgwick submitted her recording through Audioboo, which you can peruse through this link. Icy is a writer based in London, England, with subjects including tragedy and psychic parrots.

Annie Evett also submitted her recording through Audioboo. Annie is a writer based in Queensland, Australia, who has essentially played the boss lady for #spokensunday for months now.

Tony Noland kept with the trend of Audioboo. Tony is a writer of fine flash fiction, aspiring novelist, and blogger with a keen interest in bear trapping.

Mr. Noland's reading: Listen!

Jax of Tangled Yarns also tired her hand. She's penned serials, flashes, book reviews and introspective posts on her blog. This was her first Audioboo joint.

Jax's reading: Listen!

Lizze is the most unexpected reader to date. I met her playing videogames last night, mentioned this in passing, and was surprised to find her rendition pop up in the Comments. She used the file sharing service Dropbox to stream her edition.

Lizze's reading:

Finally, Cassie Nichols is the tech-savvy one. She recorded using her webcam and put it up on Youtube. You can watch her reading the monologue below:

 If you'd like to record your own version of "Might as Well," go ahead! Link to it in the Comments section and I'll add it to this post.

 The original text of Might As Well:
Why? You can only speak around your why, for the truth is that whatever happened once tautologically happened once. What has not happened at all may as well not happen. Anything perceived as happening once may happen again (may well have happened innumerable times before you perceived the once). Only that which never happened may well have never happened, but new things emerge all the time. Gadgets, individuals, sayings – things aligned, but things unique. Things that happened. That which has yet never happened might well happen along any minute. Perhaps it will happen five times right in a row, right across the floor. If it doesn’t, then it might as well not. But it may as well. In the vastness of this universe, you cannot demonstrate epistemologically that anything has not happened. Is not happening. Certainly you cannot demonstrate it in the infinite probability bubble universes outside our own, where all probabilities play out. It isn’t just our universe and one where the Third Reich won the war. It’s this one universe, and this universe where I hesitate half a second (for effect), and this universe where I use “that” instead of “this” in one of the places in this sentence, and this universe where I use “that” in another position that is wholly grammatically incorrect. It’s an infinity, and that means everything, and that means whatever happened once has happened every way it ever possibly could somewhere. If it didn’t, then it might as well not have. But if it did, then it might as well have, and that is truth, and truth is meaning, and if you oppose that meaning then you oppose truth, and the opposition of truth is wrong.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Sunnier Titles for Books

-Lord of the Butterflies

-Laughterhouse Five

-Huckleberry Pie

-Jurassic Petting Zoo

-Mario Puzo's The Fairy Godfather

-Stephen King's The Lemonade Stand

-Dante's Divine Comedy (surprisingly, needed no alterations)

-The Lilliad

-Love Triangle of the Three Kingdoms


-Here with the Wind

-Peace and Peace

-Crime and Rehabilitation

-The Underdog Baseball Team in the Rye

-Their Eyes Were Watching God Do Something Funny

-Lots of Water for Elephants

-The Democratic Majority Leader of the Rings
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