Monthly Archives: December 2009

Happy New Year and All of That Crap.

Today a red fox loped across my backyard. It paused and ate some brown thing. The brown thing looked like a sock, I mean kidney. I took a photo because in 2009 if you don’t record a thing it did not actually happen. The fox looked up at me, at my back window, looking at it, and it gave me this You Wish look, like a Ted Hughes grin, and coolly loped off. My head did a Tyra Banks falling off a cliff.

Not sure what this is a sign of? What do I know about foxes? I know they like to dance. They will ruin a roe deer population. I know they are cousin to the bear. They like dark suits. They have heart problems. They fear the Subaru. Hmm. Well, I don’t know what it means on New Years Eve to receive a visitation from a fox. We’ll see.

*

Been reading a lot. This has made me a little crazy, with a thin skim of depression. Sometimes my mind does that with reading. It’s why I don’t play much chess anymore. I used to enter into a chess cave for hours and I would emerge all cloudy in the head and coughing in the skull and then the world would feel unreal and I would feel alone or maybe floating. Harvested or something. Sometimes reading does the same, but I am working my way forward, book to book, and things are good while bad, which is the best way with reading. I will read my way home.

Last week or so:

Fifth Inning by E. Ethelbert Miller. (OK, could have went deeper)

We Did Porn by Zak Smith (Holy smart. And tons of fucking. And tons of insight on American hypocrisy about fucking and other issues, but mostly fucking)

Stoner by John Williams. (Wow. Best university-related novel I have read. An affirmation. If you teach or want to, read this, seriously.)

New issue of Gulf Coast Magazine. New issue of Hayden’s Ferry Review. (strong, per usual, for these two–will post more later on GCM)

Some of the mud luscious chaps. (I have many, all unique, bouncing off one another)

Here is a photo I took for my HTML post on Jac Jemc. I’m pretty much into 99% never having content here and HTML, but this time fuck it. I like the photo.

*

Speaking of, been posting and reading a lot of HTML Giant lately. It’s been fun and interesting, especially the other posts and the comments. I’m learning a lot. I used to read HTML and Big Other and some other sites about once every 3 days. Now I do HTML daily, and it’s been a head-spin, and also costly. How can you not buy some of these books and magazines? It’s been a great kindling (re?) about really fresh writing, and welcome during the mid-semester lull. I’ve even thought about film a bit, and I don’t care much for film. I am thinking of buying some Herzog. My own posting about publishing, submitting, writing has been something, too, to think about issues, ideas. I’ve been posting pretty regular. This will fall off some once the semester cranks up, especially this semester, with classes, committees, The Broken Plate, and so on. But I don’t think my reading will. HTML (and other sites) started me reading more, and I feel good momentum, then a possible crackup.

My next book will be the new Sherman Alexie poetry book, Face. Really looking forward to.

Then a ton of flash. I am teaching a way-heavy flash class this year in advanced fiction. God, will we do flash fiction.

*

Happy New year to all. My routine is to walk into my backyard at midnight and empty my Browning Buckmark .22 into the ground. This should work well here at my house, though apartment living always caused a little friction.

[Tuscaloosa, AL, typical grad apt, size of a sigh. Walk out into front yard, people milling about...)

Person: “Is that a gun?”

Me: “No, it’s fireworks.”

(empty gun into ground)

“See?”

(Walk back into apt. Close door)

*

I ate the “good luck” meal you are supposed to eat for good luck on new years. I am traditional that way.

fire away, 2010

S

Punch Yourself in the Face

“I went out and told the woman what a rum punch was and how to make it. In a few minutes a girl brought a stone pitcher, steaming, into the room. Bill came over from the piano and we drank the hot punch and listened to the wind.

“There isn’t too much rum in that.”

I went over to the cupboard and brought the rum bottle and poured a half-tumblerful into the pitcher.

“Direct action,” said Bill. “It beats legislation.”

The Sun Also Rises

  1. Get a big-ass crock pot.
  2. Pour in some apple cider.
  3. Add three cinnamon sticks. Break them up. It’s fun, sort of like knocking a battery off a man’s shoulder.
  4. Shove some cloves into orange. Think about sex with Martha Stewart.
  5. Cut up the orange and fling it in.
  6. Add some lime juice and some pineapple juice.
  7. Heat it all up to make your house smell happy.
  8. Pour two big-ass dollops of rum into Ball jars or that beer glass you stole from Applebees because you are so crazy.
  9. Pour the mix over.
  10. Call your mom.

Venison Nachos Smokelong Q, The Pedestal.

Venison soft tacos, with side order of venison nachos. Level 8. Tasted like five pinks lions gathered on your roof, by your chimney. I ate this and believed I was important for nine minutes, until that feeling wore off and I drank three cups of “banana” coffee. I covered the coffee filter in banana peels, then ran the coffee through. It tasted like Cracker Barrel. I got my potassium, though!

*

I am in the new SmokeLong Q. I am writing about standing in line at a pharmacy. Wow, that is an exiting topic. Kudos.

I am in The Pedestal. Take this poem and go play poker.

*

I finished a micro-fiction MSS today. Who knows? We will see. Won’t we?

*

I am reviewing disc for Disc Golf Station. They send me discs, I review them, I keep the discs. Hmm. Well, we will see, we will see…Lots of snow and ice out there right now, so not much reviewing going on. I could throw the discs inside but it causes strife. I remember the one time I threw a ball and knocked over a Bear Figurine of my mom’s and I went into the kitchen cabinet and procured a coffee mug (brown) and replaced the bear with the coffee mug. This worked for a week and then my mom noticed her bear had transmogrified into a coffee mug. There were questions. Though few answers.

Wonder how these will fly?

*

Every book in the world has at least one typo. I even found one in Moby Dick. I found three in a recent Dan Fante novel. This makes me nervous since my students will be copy-editing soon for The Broken Plate.

Speaking of, the students have sent out all Accept and Reject notices. If you sent, and didn’t get a reply, TELL ME!!

Thanks to all who submitted. Without submission, the students have nothing to edit!

Seriously.

tx

HTML Giant and Ander Monson and Snow, Wonderful Snow!

My backyard this morning. I don’t care how old I am, the first good snow makes me feel giddy. I grew up in Memphis, TN. We had snow maybe twice a decade. When it snowed, we ran through the streets yelling like Tremendous  Snakes. We were so damn happy. I woke to this, and smiled.

*

I write for HTML Giant now. Enough said.

*

Ander Monson, at Emerging Writer’s Network, gives a shout-out to Eggs. (See that book over there to the right of this page? Why not read it?)

That is kind, and I thank.

*

This is my new bow. It shoots arrows at the speed of a soul raptured to heaven. I like it.

The cool thing is I was thinking, “How do you pose a bow?” And I tried different shots. It made me feel stupid. I am stupid.

*

I am impressed by this. Then again, I am a Jamie Iredell groupie.

S

Stan Snæland úr Kötlum’s Best of 2009

My friend, the photographer Stan Snæland úr Kötlum, took about 240,000 photos of his own house and neighborhood outside Chicago, Illinois. Here are his Top Domestic Photos of 2009, with brief commentary.

Observe the Jack-o-Lantern, once a simple squash, then “made” into a jolly man, sucked of seeds, smiling for all with a burning spike of flame in his brain. And now? Tugged to gravity, decay. Can he see at all? What does he smell like? I suppose this is love.

The Boy has left his soccer ball alongside the septic tank riser and lid. We will allow juxtaposition to work its unnerving magic. Yesterday, a cat purred the nearby bird feeder. For hours it hid still, until it was no longer still, and the sky split apart with screams.

The interior of my neighbor’s shed. He had 100% of his retirement in Polaroid stock (his former employer), now worthless. Taped below the plastic slide is an ounce of very weak marijuana. In several pots he keeps the animal tranquilizer, Ketamine. In the slit tires of two bicycles he stores away Valium, Xanax, and pills for his anemia, which he crushes and snorts up his nose. The lawnmower oil bottle is filled with cough syrup. My neighbor mows his yard in the late evening, in the pitch black. Once I waved to him while walking my golden retriever. I said, “You, what are you doing?” He stopped the mower (I then noticed he wore only boxer shorts with red hearts on them; the temperature at 22 degrees) and smiled a bit too widely and said, “This is what happened.”

In my creek today the husk of a banana. We all know that Chiquita Brands International is a company who has employed murderous, terrorist forces for decades, not to mention a policy of blatant deforestation. Yet, a banana is tangy. Most Men prefer tangy to freedom.

Every home held an assortment of spoons, bubble mixtures, and knives.

With red wine and pickled herring sloshing in my belly, I once stood atop coffee tables and screamed at my guests, ‘Fools! Possessions posses the possessor!” And what say you now, Little Man?

Even the birds live in suburbs they cannot afford.

Coleslaw and Gin and Big Other and HTML Giant and Coleslaw.

These young ladies are coleslaw wrestling at a biker rally, I shit you not. I use the image in my Big Other contest, called Will You Please Help a Lazy Poet or something.

Idea is you help me write a poem. I will then flow the poem off for publication. It will be a group poem but I will try to keep all the credit and the group will anger and sue me for royalties on VH1 or something, maybe we wreck our fast car into the forehead of our aging later on in Daytona? Maybe we paunch. Maybe we select headgear to cricket our youth into a roll of Maybes.

*

I got something in Best of Metazen, and a process note. I included Ambien reference in the process note as a nod to TW. TW having a rough (fun with puns!) time and I know he enjoys online literary magazines, so maybe he will glow this and feel less existentially alone.

TW just needs an intellectual whore, really.

I love Jason Whitlock, BTW. He has been fired so many times for being honest. His take on TW.

That’s enough TW, but I am not immune to tawdry.

*

I was at a university breakfast with our president and we were talking about flash fiction and I said in passing “Less words equals more meaning” and she said, “You mean fewer words.”

You get it?

The president of my university corrected my English. I am an English professor at the university.

That was embarrassing, folks.

*

I went two days without nachos and I feel sad.

*

It is time for 2009 “top” book lists. They are all over the internet.

Zak Smith has this and Justin Taylor this at HTML GIANT.

BIG OTHER with Alec Niedenthal’s choices and also some music choices by Christopher Higgs.

I read BIG OTHER and HTML GIANT pretty much daily and have noticed this:

1.) I buy many more books now. So many vervey words! This is a good thing, but getting costly. Then again, would I rather spend my money on books or beer? Wait…

2.) I blog less. It just seems these two sites have all the fascinating stuff you need in a part of this Indie writing scene thing. I go there and read it all, the content and crisp onion shards and so on, and to blog along similar lines seems redundant or dumb or something. Plus, who cares if I blog less or more? Really. So, I don’t mind this development and it makes me take my blog to somewhere new, I’m sure. We’ll see.

3.) There is no number three.

*

All of my writer friends LOVE music. I don’t. The last time I thought about music was two weeks ago I emailed Ander Monson and asked if he would send me Mountain Goats. A week later five MG CD’s arrived in the mail. I play them over and over and I’m fine. I mean I’ll be OK for a year, easy, just driving to work and back and playing those CDs over and over. I have no idea the titles of the songs. Fine with me.

*

Speaking of PANK, here is a bio of Roxanne Gay I found on Big Other. Other editor bios here.

Roxane Gay moved to Tree Hill and became a student at Tree Hill High the beginning of her senior year, and initially appeared to be a promiscuous and manipulative rich girl. She joined the cheerleading squad and became a fast rival to Brooke Davis. Their rivalry culminated in a violent physical altercation. Roxane’s sensitive side surfaced when she admitted she suffered from low self esteem and resorted to plastic surgery to attain her ideal body. Lying about her age, she entered a relationship with the significantly older Cooper Lee. Cooper ended the relationship when he discovered Roxane’s deceit. Later, while alone in a limo after a mutual acquaintance’s wedding, Roxane told Cooper she was pregnant – another lie – before drunkenly driving the limo off a bridge. Roxane and Cooper survived the accident, but Cooper once again abandoned Roxane after learning she’d faked her pregnancy. After graduating high school, Roxane’s addiction to drugs destroyed her burgeoning modeling career. While working as a stripper, Roxane met and later married ex-convict and convicted murderer Dan Scott. She convinced Scott to publish his memoir and launch a television talk show about his personal quest for redemption. Both projects proved incredibly successful, and the couple accumulated significant wealth.

*

I am just finishing this book by E. Ethelbert Miller.

It is about a fear of getting old and irrelevant, and then, you know dying. So far, Ethelbert:

* Is paranoid about people misspelling his name.

* Says black people cannot Xerox well.

* Keeps comparing baseball to life. This works OK, but I wish we could see the author show us his passion/interest in baseball more clearly. I’d like to see the core of his metaphor–it would provide the entire structure of the book a more solid underpinning.

*

The new Breadcrumb Scabs is out and I’m in there. You can download pdf for free or buy a print copy. Of all lit mags, the words Breadcrumb Scabs might be the most visceral. Just saying the title makes me shudder.

*

Yesterday a magazine took a poem of mine and gave me $40. What? Money for poetry? It must be Christmas…Oh, I feel stupid today. Probably because I am stupid.

S

Gale Disc Golf

Disc golf was tough today but the other option was to walk shyly to a side door. As much as I like side doors (I really do), today was not the day. So I went all 2-in-the-afternoon, all night sweat and comforting Cone, Canopy.

Temp: 25 degrees.

Wind Chill: 7 degrees.

Winds: 37 mph steady.

Gusts: Up to 50 mph.

Yes. Fun.

I could not feel my fingers, but fuck my fingers. I mean fuck feeling them. Sorry, fuck is a strong word. I mean forget your fingers. Feeling your own fingers is overrated.

Dumb kids (in snow).

When you give energetic thumbs-ups to cameras, it means you are sloppy depressed. So I hope Sara is OK now.

S

Fail Nacho Coffee Clear My Throat Now

Well, my MSS “Twentieth Century Visits” has been rejected again. It got kicked like a cupcake made of school nurses, or ash. It is a collection of persona pieces. It has been finalist for a few book contests and several editors have given it the glance and no-glance. Blah blah. I just fell into a fish-like slumber. I just fell into the doorstep of America.

Example John McEnroe.

Example Andy Warhol.

These two pieces are strong (that’s why they appear in strong mags), but it’s past time for this writer to face the honest edge of the mirror. Misunderstanding, while often endless, doesn’t have to be. Yes? (Has anyone ever seen a deer with a red bandanna tied around its neck? A bunch of local hunters in my county have seen this exact deer, and it makes you wonder. Why do people make pets of the wild things in life and give the winking night a destiny?)  The editor gave a close read and perceptive comments on my MSS and it boils down to this: This album has several hits, but then several fuzzy, washy, well weak (these are all my take, not his words) songs. I totally agree. But that leads to my 2nd problem:

Do I want to revise, tighten, re-work these weaker stories? Not really…

Why?

Because this MSS was written a few years ago and I don’t write that way, in that style, that tone, that whatever. People change. Projects pass and move on. How can you become a past you?

So.

Is a frozen lake a clone? Or our all frozen lakes specific and special. I’ve just been wondering.

I like the word shrewd, I have decided.

Thing for me to do is work on the multiple projects I am writing now. The ones I am engaged and excited about. And I think that is OK.

(Blake Butler, on HTML Giant, once called it “Today is National Delete That Old Ass Shitty Manuscript Off Your Hard Drive and Live Again Day”)

Blake be smart (often, not always–I will destroy him in any nacho-related milieu).

*

This guy married a video game character. Really.

*

WordPress keeps making snow fall across my screen and they didn’t even ask me. That’s real fucking clever. You should ask before you precipitate across my computer. You are intruding, WordPress. What if snow makes me remember cold and cold makes me remember the day I couldn’t find the niceness inside of me and then I go and get dysentery from eating Comfort Food (yesterday’s cabbage or meat soup in a slop pail)? Who am I going to blame? You, WordPress.

Punks.

*

One time at Bama I made love in a tobacco field. Very funky. One time at Bama the poet Kevin Young visited and the first ten students who signed up were offered the ability to talk with him about a few of our poems. It is weird I signed up, since I rarely wrote poetry at the time (and always very badly). Anyway, I gave him some poems and we met and he said, “All you young people write about coffee. Why is that?”

I didn’t have an answer.

One time the poet Bruce Smith looked at my poetry and said, “I like the gas station beer.” He was referring to a line from the poem.  That was his feedback, and I feel fair.

Translation: Dude, your poetry sucks.

Indeed.

I still write bad poetry, BTW. People love to write them some bad poetry. I mean LOVE to. I sometimes wonder why. I think writing bad poetry is ingrained in certain DNA. I”m going to wake up today and write some bad poetry, how about you?

My point is coffee. A long way of saying here is WHY I NEVER SAY NO TO COFFEE at Pank.

Here is something about eggs at Hayden’s Ferry review, if you like eggs. I do not like eggs. This is the title story of my collection. People like it at readings. Flash is excellent at readings. I tell people, “If you don’t like this piece, wait. In a few minutes I will read a different one.”

I just had a reading and another professor here at BSU gave his class extra credit to attend my reading and the students had to write up responses and the professor gave me a copy of their responses. They seemed to enjoy flash fiction. They liked my yellow shoes. They liked my ponytail, and that was good since I am way too old to be trying to pull off a ponytail, I am thinking, and here these people say, “No, no, it’s fine.” I try to be flaky but not too flaky, so. I would think at least two of them are going to write and/or read further flash fiction, so that makes me glow all Stinking Potato. I was going to quote from their actual work here, but that seemed petty and presumptuous of me and I am glad my internal editor said, “No, Sean, do not quote from their feedback, that is stupid.”

I can’t say enough about the “new” Hayden’s Ferry (I feel it is new). I mean they had a reputation for being SLOW and a few other things. Now, they are awesome, period. I mean I’ve never seen such care, feedback, work with authors, all of it. Beth Staples (and, naturally, others) have decided to do things the right way, no doubt. In a word, impressive.

*

I think I need a third nacho bowl.

I have been eating so many nachos lately I have exhausted my two bowl system. So I am looking for a new bowl. Tonight I actually had to go to a reserve bowl, some Pyrex dish, since both bowls were in the washing machine, and it caused me great discomfort during the Nacho Experience. I wasn’t happy. I need a large bowl, in green or blue (the only colors I admire). Some folks have been helping me with this search, so hope to have a 3rd bowl to work into my rotation soon. Of course, any hints or leads you have, please do.

*

Matt Bell is kicking Dinosaur ass. I get my Hayden’s Ferry and he is in there. I get my new Gulf Coast and he is in there. The man can flat write a story. And his stuff keeps evolving, getting tighter and weirder. I like weird. I think he is stretching things, flux and pop. Pick up the two mags and read him!

*

I did a 28 minute tempo yesterday, about 5:54 mile speed. People, do your tempo run! It is the bedrock of your training. I know runners read this blog some, because I know you, so DO NOT NEGLECT THE TEMPO RUN! I’m serious.

*

The new DecomP is out and I like this flash by Mark Neely. I think his work is getting weirder, too, and didn’t I just say I like weird?

OK then.

S