Saturday, December 24, 2011

Can You Guess The Author Before David?

Every Christmas I get my brother a book and give him clues to guess what it is.
And for the past few Christmas Eves I've invited my readers to decipher the clues along with him.
Know the answer to #3? Then post it in the Comments!
Together perhaps you'll figure out what's in his present before David does.
The rules are no Googling, rather only offering the answers you know and pooling mental resources with other readers.
Below is the text of his card:

There is no way you can guess this year’s book title. However, you definitely know its author. The following are nine clues as to the letters in his name, and one unclue which will only throw you off. You’ll have to figure out which isn’t actually a clue.

1. According to Groucho Marx, this kind of person is a critic. The letter that occurs three times in this kind of person might be the first letter in his name.

2. Three Stooges. Marx Brothers. Beatles. Such different acts, yet when we talk about them, their names all begin with the same letter. If Clue #1 is a fake, then this letter is the first in his name. If not, it’s the second.

3. According to Norm MacDonald, this organ only understands violence. One day, he says, it will attack and kill you. Today, its first letter is probably the third letter in our mystery.

4. What’s the difference between “then” and “than”? One of them has a letter to share with us.

5. This famous comedian refused to receive the Mark Twain Prize for several years because of the kind of language that was used at the event. He eventually accepted. The third letter in his last name might go here.

6. The seventh element on the Periodic Table, and something you’re inhaling right now, might be helpful here.

7. If we’re not talking about Bob Dylan’s Modern Times, then we must be talking about this man’s movie. His first and last names match, making this clue so obvious it seems like it must be the unclue.

8. Your mouth can speak any letter, but this is the only one your lips can spell. Enjoy not snickering over this joke in front of Grandpa.

9. This letter is redundant. It’s occurred somewhere in the name already, and occurs for the second time here. Is it the last letter?

10. If this is the last letter in his name, then it’s the first in the title of the movie that beat your beloved There Will Be Blood for Best Picture at the Oscars in February, 2008.

Figure any of them out? Or the author's name? Feel free to guess below!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Santa Drops the Truth Bomb

Timmy balled his hands into fists, then bawled his face into them. When the jolly fat man tried to console him, the boy wriggled from his lap and fell to the candy-cane-colored floor.

“Why?” Timmy hollered so loud all the department store elves scuttled away. They formed a wall of placation around the other kids standing in line, waiting to tell Santa their wishes.

Santa leaned from his red felt throne, extending a white glove in peace. “Here, here, Timothy. It’s not that bad.”

“You lied to me! You hate liars!”

“Well, I never give myself presents this time of year,” Santa said with a laugh, though mid-ho-ho the boy punched him in the crotch. He reeled his body, eyes pleading with his parents to tell him this wasn’t the real Santa. Yet both Mom and Dad stood stock still, eyes glazed over, expressions of adoration rigid.

“They’re robots,” said Santa, remaining on the elevated throne for now, safely out of further yam-punching range. “Your bed time is seven o’clock every night because their battery life is low.”

“They love me!”

“They look like they do. My elves are industry leaders. Whenever Mrs. Claus goes out of town, I have as robot of her to keep me from getting lonely.”

When his parents didn’t hitch to life at this absurdity, Timmy turned to face the rosy-cheeked monster.

“And Nana?”

Santa clasped his hands together. “She didn’t really die, Timothy. Your robot grandma is actually in a box in your attic. You can take her out and play with her whenever you want.”

“What about King Snuffles?”

Santa hissed and drew back as though burning his fingers on the truth. “Unfortunately, the dog was real…”

Timmy burst into a new bout of hysterics. He thrashed, the flashing lights in his sneakers kicking at Santa’s shins. The irony that Santa had brought him those sneakers last year was entirely lost on him.

“I don’t believe you!”

Santa took him by the collar, tugging him away from the more impressionable crowd. The kids beyond the helper-elves were all much younger than him.

“You’re getting older,” said Santa. “It’s time you knew that pretty much everyone you’ll ever meet is fake in one way or another. If you’re good, next year I’m giving you the complete works of Carl Jung.”

“But evolution!”

“Timothy, don’t be naughty. Which makes more sense: a bacteria becomes a fish becomes a monkey, or I built your parents? Think about it.”

“I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to think about anything.”

“You don’t even want to think about a Playstation 3?”

Timmy’s fists parted as gradually as the Red Sea, revealing the dawn of his puffy face. He hiccuped out a question.

“The slim?”

Santa’s jowls jiggled in his nod. “The three-hundred-and-twenty gigabyte model, bundled with Uncharted 3.”

“But Mom and Dad couldn’t afford that.”

“But they aren’t real, Timothy.”

Timmy’s fists fell away from his face entirely. His tears detoured around his gaping mouth. The anxiety wasn’t over, but it was the first step towards realizing that, all things considered, this was the grown-up he wanted - just like every other child.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Notice: #bestreads2011 Next Week

Next week we'll be doing a little community chat between The Bathroom Monologues and Twitter. #bestreads2011 will be all about your favorite books from the last year.

The blog hop will start here on Wednesday, December 28th. The same day at a time we'll arrange by community, anyone on Twitter is invited to an open chat about their favorite books of the year using the hashtag #bestreads2011. For those without blogs or Twitter, you're still welcome to mention your favorites in the Comments section. Everyone is invited, readers and authors alike.

So think on it. What are your favorite books that you read this year? Not what was written or published in 2011, but that you personally read and loved. Fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry and sequential art is all welcome. I guarantee you a comic book will show up on my list. It's a middlegrade comic, too. My list will be about 4-5 books long, with a paragraph a-piece on what I got out of them. You can handle the number and format as you like.

Feel free to launch questions below. We'll field them together.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Vampires are Addicts

“I can’t help thinking of him as an addict. There are, what? A hundred people in Snowberg? And he’s eaten fifteen in a week. If a human’s a blood pack to him, then that’s a two-pack-a-day habit. That can’t be normal, even for the really old vampires. Definitely not normal for a guy that haunts this valley, who’d run out of snacks entirely soon enough. Either he’s betting he’ll eat CIA and X-Files detectives for the rest of his life, or he’s got an irrational craving. My dad was an alcoholic. Some nights, when he couldn’t find the remote and was heavy on the belt, I guess it would have felt nice to pound a stake through his heart and leave him to dawn. But the more you know addicts, the harder it is to hate them. I pity this guy. Get him into a twelve step program. One not held in church basements, I guess.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Fate Worse Than Death

“This one I call the 'Afterlife Spell.' A lot of people can threaten you with death. A knife, a gun, slathering you in gravy and tossing you to wolves. But death doesn’t last long enough.

“What the Afterlife Spell does is sustains your consciousness after your body quits. After your neurons cease firing, you’ll keep feeling everything. The maggots pushing into you. The skin drying and tearing. The ligaments rotting. You’ll feel the aching decay of your entire body over the course of months. The truly special part is that your selfishness remains; you’ll want to not end, and so desperately hold onto your consciousness as that physical real estate dries up. Eventually you’ll be one flickering microbe, begging to hurt a little longer.

“I save this spell for people who hurt my daughter. I hear you’re taking her to Arby’s?”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Mother-in-Law Versus Mother of her Granddaughter, OR, Fresh out of Bed Monologue

“Oh God, can we just leave? I can’t take the stares. It's like I'm meat.”

"You look great, honey."

"You think?”

“For a human wheelbarrow? Yes! You should be proud.”

“…for a what?”

“It’s your body. You should be proud of your decisions, like the one to put on more pounds here and there.”

“I’m carrying a child!”

“Not in your thighs, deary. But don’t make excuses. Own it.”

“I haven’t even gained that much weight. My doctor says I’m at the dead-on average for seven months.”

“Dead-on average for the McDonalds generation, sure. But when I was carrying your husband? I was tight as a deer. Almost sinewy.”

“You have that look in your eyes sometimes.”

“What was that?”

“Nothing. Can we go?”

“We need to get dinner for Christmas, don’t we? Got to feed that fetus. And the rest of you.”

“Oh my God, you’re making more people stare.”

“If you can’t take the stares, then maybe you should take the stairs more often.”

“What the hell? That’s bad for the baby.”

“According to whom? When I was carrying Tim I lived on the seventh floor of a tenement with no elevator. The super always said I was very tight. When she stared, it was out of admiration. Those stares would have been grounds for divorce in six states.”

“This explains so much about Tim.”

“What was that? I can’t hear a thing in here. You'd think shoppers would use their in-door voices.”

“I said you’re not going to see this baby until she’s got her Masters degree.”

“Goodness, it’s noisy in here. Maybe we should leave. Want me to push the cart? We know how you feel about exercise.”

“…That’d be great. That’d be great.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eulogy for Irene Sabo Corcoran

This is how I eulogize, folks. Many people approached after the funeral, asking for a copy. I actually never wrote it down; I performed it from my head. It didn't feel proper to write it down for the first year. Since this weekend is about Rene, it's felt more natural to put it on screen and share it. She'd approve, of course, of something that glamorized her. So here's saying farewell.
I want to tell you something about my grandmother.

On August 23rd an Allstate Agency appeared in Ireland. No one thought it was odd because only one lady saw it, and she was quite used to Allstate Agencies. That woman was Irene Corcoran.

She walked inside. There was Roland Maynard, Joe Richardson, and a host of people who absolutely did not work at Allstate anymore. They buzzed about the office, trying to sell insurance.

Rene asked them, "What's going on here?"

One muffled the phone to his shoulder and said, "You put a lot of yourself into this place. Work has to be done. Money to be made."

"Yes,” she said, “but I don't want to do it now."

He said, "You don't have to. We just thought you should remember. In fact, you can’t stay here."

He directed her to her office. She walked down the hall, past all her awards and certificates, and through the familiar door frame. Except it wasn't her office.

Inside was the cramped Sabo family living room. Her father stood by the wall, admiring a framed photograph. It was her graduation picture from Sarah Lawrence, just a couple years ago, decades after he’d passed. Her mother came to his side.

"I can't believe you did that," her father said, shaking his head.

Rene came over to them. They touched hands and admired it.

She remarked, as she often did, "I look better in the other photos."

"I like this one," said her mother. "By the way, your room is taken tonight. I’m afraid you can’t stay here. "

It had been decades since she'd had to give up her bed for immigrants, but she remembered the drill. Families came across the Atlantic and needed a break. In such cases, the Sabo family’s daughter broke. She nodded.

Her mother asked, "Can you get something from the kitchen for me?"


"Just something we thought you should remember."

So Rene went into the kitchen, looking around for the parcel. Except it wasn't a kitchen. It was a ballroom, full of noisy people. Across the floor she saw a familiar man. A decorated World War II hero, captain of the football team, and a scholar. She put a hand to her cheek.

“Damn, I did well.”

When her once and future husband stepped out through the double doors, she followed. She found herself in the corridor of a hospital. She looked through each door. In the first, she saw herself delivering her first daughter, Mary. In the next she was cradling the newborn Christine. Then their son, Jodi, and then littlest Deirdre. Through further doors she saw all her grandchildren, a parade of babies. She sped up, loving them all, but not that enamored with reliving childbirth.

She left the corridor for another kitchen. Jodi's kitchen, now all grown up. Her daughter in law Bean was busy cooking, cleaning fruit and piling dishes in the sink. There were so many people: Doug, Bernie and Susan, and friends from the local church. Outside were still more familiar voices, including her husband’s laughter. Her grandchildren were everywhere. Christine’s daughter, another Deirdre, carried a cake, a stream of Rene’s friends following behind and offering to cut it. Her oldest grandson, John, was there too. He almost never visited, but there he was, talking to Jodi about stocks.

She felt tired, so she sat in a corner, listening to her husband and friends chatting outside, and stared at John. Eventually he noticed and looked back, still chatting with family. Gradually, Rene smiled. It was more sincere a smile than he'd seen in a decade of holiday visits, and it left him guilty, wishing he'd come much more often, to see that expression, if not to cause it.

Rene didn't talk to anyone. Instead she watched this loving family buzz around the house for a while. Then she stood up and walked through the glass door, outside. It was bright out there.

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to tell you about my grandmother. Thank you.
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