Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Simply Lost" at Calling Shotgun

This week my flash story "Simply Lost" was featured at Laurita Miller's Calling Shotgun. It won an Honorable Mention from her and Alan Davidson's Lost contest. Their challenge was to write something on the theme of being lost. Naturally, I wrote about the show Lost. Even though I thought the story was a little dreary, it won points for humor with the judges.

You can read "Simply Lost" at this link.

Some folks are having trouble leaving comments at Calling Shotgun. I've left this post open if you want to leave your thoughts here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Telling Dad

There were only my parents left to tell. I rolled up to the house and found Dad on the porch. An extension cord ran through the window to power a fan that blew into his face while he smoked his pipe. Maybe that’s why he was smiling. It was a rare event.

My bowels tightened as I approached, but it was probably better to catch him in a good mood for this.

"Hey Dad," I said. "Can we talk a minute? I have something to tell you."

"Is it that you're going to pay back-rent for the eighteen years I raised you?"

“You don’t have the legal grounds for that, Dad.”

“You going to pay me back for sending you to law school, then?”

I smiled into my sleeve, not wanting to show him too much positive reinforcement. Dad took encouragement like others took alcohol, and he was an abusive drunk.

“You know how I’ve had the same roommate for three years?”

“How is that lease?”

And down we went. Sucked directly into an inferno of topics on his mind. I bided my time, weathering complaints about the Dodgers’ line-up and the Republicans' concessions to Obama. There was a pause around what we were going to do for Memorial Day. Charcoal was a tenuous issue for him.

Charcoal is not how most people come out, but it was a break. I jumped in.

"Dad. I need you to know: I'm gay. Danny isn’t just my roommate. We’ve been together for almost a year."

He studied the handrail of the steps. I put my hand on it, and he studied another part of it. There was this big opening, and honestly I didn’t know how to fill it. Then Dad looked up, lower lip puckered.

"Okay," he said. "I tongued your mother's asshole last night."

My mouth fell open a little.

"You... what?"

"Kind of makes you want to throw up, eh?" His lip wasn't quivering anymore. "But you're not going to stop me. So what are we doing for the grill?"

And that was it. He even helped me break it to Mom, which was nice because it was another week before I could look her in the eye.

I swear he's a good man.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Flower Over a Man OR, Write a Tweet-Length Story About This Picture

"Even as that," said Zeus. "I'll have that Lothario offer me to her."

Apollo snickered. "She won't fall in love with a flower over a man."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

True Stories of John 9: What Men Want

I spent most of my first term at college in my dorm. I studied, played videogames, rested from the exhaustion brought on by my syndrome, and perhaps hid from having to grow a social identity.

That night I studied with my door open. My roommate was across the hall, wooing a New Yorker girl. I could hear them talking about punk bands and the expensive crap her dad was sending her. I was reading Daniel Dennett bitching about B.F. Skinner’s philosophy. My roommate was probably having the better time.

Two girls came to my door. One was stout, and the other was half a head taller. For anonymity, let’s call them Stout and Taller.

They stood in my doorway as though purposefully blocking my only exit.

“Hey, Stout’s doing a survey for her class.”

“It’s a science paper about gender.”

“You’ll be our first subject.”

“Sure,” I said, happy to put the book down. “Science is good.”

“Great!” Stout perked up. “It’s about men and relationships.”

My palms sweated a little. “Okay.”

Stout and Taller looked at each other. I noticed neither had any paper with them. Maybe it was a fast survey.

Taller looked at me. “So the first question is, what do men want?”

“What do men want?” I repeated, which probably not helpful.

“You know,” said Stout. “What can a woman do to keep a man happy?”

“Well the first thing you’ve got to realize is that not all men want the same thing. A lot of us want very different things.”

I was going to elaborate, but Stout and Taller looked at each other again. The look made me doubt science was at stake here. Then Stout said something that I’ve remembered with pride ever since.

“We need a dumber man.”

Taller said, “Thank you,” without looking at me. They retreated to the hall. A moment later, I heard them conversing with my roommate.

It was back to Dennett and Skinner for me, neither of whom I particularly wanted.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No Facebook in Heaven, OR, E-mails From Heaven

ElElleMarino                                                                May 21 (5 hours ago)
thx 4 the pics. sunrise sooo pretty. nice clouds

also, glad 2 c u wrn’t raptured either

TortoiseManwise                                                          May 21 (2 hours ago)
Who says I wasn’t Raptured? I could be in Heaven right now. Those are photos of clouds, after all.

ElElleMarino                                                                May 21 (1 hour ago)
o they have gmail in heven? ;p

TortoiseManwise                                                          May 21 (1 hour ago)
Wifi everywhere. Every movie ever is streaming. It’s pretty sweet.

Plus there’s no Facebook.

ElElleMarino                                                                 May 21 (1 hour ago)
i like facebook!

TortoiseManwise                                                           May 21 (20 minutes ago)
Maybe that’s why you’re not up here.

ElElleMarino                                                                 May 21 (10 minutes ago)

TortoiseManwise                                                           May 21 (five minutes ago)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Versatile Writer Award 2: I’ll stab you if you make a Breakin’ reference

Last week Mr. FAR gave me this Versatile Writer award. I’d previously received it from Mari Juniper last year, but it’s very affirming to know a year later I’m still dexterous at the keyboard. The game requires seven seldom-known facts about the recipient, and for it to be passed on to someone else. It’s a little like visiting an unlicensed brothel.

1. When I was very little my uncle would hold me over the edge of his apartment building by my feet. I was probably annoying enough to warrant it, but it instilled a decades-long fear of heights.

2. In high school I seldom swore, disdained any sort of misbehavior, and was generally grumpy. In my Business class they called me "Grandpa." They'd mockingly ask me to tell them about the war. My stock response was to ask, "Which one?"

3. Last Tuesday I listened to Beethoven's symphonies for six straight hours. It helped me knock out a troublesome scene. There’s probably a blog post coming soon about listening to music while writing. I’ve joked about sending Hans Zimmer a royalty check for all the help summoning emotion his scores have given me.

4. I watched and read through nine of William Shakespeare’s plays, desperate to find one I actually liked. I feared disliking so much of Shakespeare would invalidate some useless but socially desirable part of me. Thank God Hamlet was good.

5. I enjoy 24-hour super markets because I like to dance with the cart in the empty aisles after midnight.

6. I have the terribly offensive habit of seeing humor in sickness and death. Meeting a fibromyalgia patient, I told her we should get our medical records and compare, because, “It’ll be like a game of Yu-Gi-Oh, only with decks of shitty lives.” It’s taken years, but now I’m quiet during most tragedies and funerals, not because I’m mourning, but because I’ve tired of being chastised for going against the accepted mood.

7. I watch way more Japanese professional wrestling than you think. That might actually be “any Japanese professional wrestling.” Kenta Kobashi is my all-time favorite striker. Once per week I hook up with a fellow writer Randall Nichols online to watch a simulcast of Dragon Gate Infinity. When Dragon toured the U.S. and hit Boston, I sat in the second row. Shingo Takagi and I had a moment where he was about to destroy a dude and I gave him the double thumbs-up. He looked down at me like he wanted to eat me alive. It was a highlight of my year.

So now that I’ve admitted those things, I’m sure you’re highly interested in my list of versatile writers. Here are five:

1. Stephen Book has to be first. He attempts a new style or genre for nearly every #fridayflash. Despite shifting so much, he has a routine standard of quality in the upper class of the community. More people should be reading his blog.

2. Chuck Allen, whose blog includes arguments against auto-flushing toilets, activism against slave trafficking, and sometimes Westerns. Diversity! Versatility.

3. Danielle La Paglia was tinkering with some ideas, but decided to do a YA project just for her daughter. Think about that – could have written other stuff, went into this for her daughter. That’s pretty cool. Also demonstrates versatile. Her thematic serials also span an impressive range of emotions. Well worth checking out, especially since they pop like candy.

4. Tony Noland, the first writer I met through Twitter who actually conversed with me about versatility. He also blogged about the importance of experimenting, and fears of losing his audience for writing different sorts of things. As someone who has proudly lost plenty of people because he wrote one thing instead of another, I endorse this fella.

5. Now I mentioned Randall Nichols in the previous list, so he precedes everyone listed here, but he’s also last on this list. What does that mean? As Lex Luger would say, “I don’t know.” Based just on the scripts I’ve critiqued for him, Nichols has done modern kung fu, backwoods vampires, checkout clerk angst and nudie bar suicides. You should go talk to all of these people, but when you talk to Randall, ask him about his love for Clash of the Titans.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Self-Defeating Prophecy Audio Redux

This story originally ran on April 19, 2009. Since it got no comments then, I'll presume none of my current readers read it. And if you did read it, please enjoy the brand-spanking-new recording below.

To listen to this brand-spanking-new recording either click the triangle on the left to begin streaming audio, or click this text to download the MP3.

It wasn’t that the end of the world got here, but that too many did. The frost giants wanted to freeze the world, the fire gods wanted to burn it, and the deities of science had all manner of diseases and bombs that would let the humans kill themselves off. Irony was a big seller in the market of The End.

Well humanity saw the many apocalypses arguing and came up with a clever idea. One would-be leader went up to them and proposed the agents of Armageddon end each other, and whichever was left would be announced the most effective, and then get to end the world. The last doomsday standing, as it were, would win.

Eager to get some sort of destruction in, they began ending the crap out of each other. Polar ice caps melted and extinguished exalted volcanoes. Meteor showers decimated android armies. Cataclysmic earthquakes swallowed up dragons, rendering global warming utterly irrelevant.

And yet not a single human was slain in the battle royale. Only the Angels of the Rapture wised up, and only in time to see the last humans' spaceships leaving earth for new worlds. Then the dragons and gods had nothing but an empty planet to destroy. And frankly, with all the trees and none of the pop music, they didn’t want to. They leveled a few cities and had a picnic in the shade of former skyscrapers instead. The sum total of all destructive potential grabbed some sun tan lotion and relaxed.
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