Monthly Archives: August 2011

The pity of it is we are free

Account of working in the Breadloaf Writing Retreat kitchen.

It kills me that people still ban Vonnegut, but Vonnegut is striking back!

I of course remember the first time I met Vonnegut, off near that GM plant in Fort Wayne, on that state land, well we were deer hunting,  a reduction hunt, shotgun only, and Vonnegut and I both clueless, hadn’t scouted besides a quick glimpse at a topo map and asking some lady Vonnegut knew at the plant, her name was Sheila and she had these very largy yet remarkably firm breasts and she just said, “I seen a big ol’ deer out there, size of a sandwich” and anyway Vonnegut goes and shoots a button buck, you know them teenager bucks, little buttons on top, dumb as boiled gravel, and Vonnegut just sort of gut-shoots it and it humps all up and then jumps over the fence, off into that GM land, clearly off-limits, and Vonnegut just unsnaps a little folding knife, maybe a Gerber or whatnot, off his belt and scurries up the fence and leaps off and onto that button buck and they’re all rolling and thrashing about and leaves flying and finally Vonnegut rares up and slits that deer’s throat! Damn, man. And then he just, I guess adrenaline and all, just heaves that deer right over the fence and climbs back up and over and Vonnegut all heavy heaving red-faced, all blood on his hands and arms and specks on his mustache whatnot and sort of panting and laughing and I go, “Damn, man, that was something” and he starts maybe laughing I don’t know and sticks his knife in the ground, wipes it clean on his pants leg, snaps it right back onto his belt, grabs the hind legs of the little button buck and says, “Yeh, it was something. How about giving me a hand here?”

And so we drug that deer out is what I remember and ate some of it over fire that night with cold cans of beer and a touch of hot sauce.

*

He enters a clearing with a small blue tent and a poodle tied to a picnic table.

*

Kraft sells off Velveeta, the sons-a-bitches. You dare doubt Velveeta!! I would like to introduce you, Kraft, to your brethren and their wise words. Your brothers are:

Variety Magazine, 1955. Here is their opinion on rock-n-roll:

It will be gone by June.

I also introduce you to another one of your mealy, doughy, half-baked brothers, Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943:

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.

And so on…Oh, you will rue this day, Kraft. I will write documents so analytical, so bereft of emotion (seemingly), so rhetorically sound as to raise the hair on the backs of the necks of statues of grandmothers. I will raise an army against you…etc, etc. Hold up, my dog just ran out the door. And guess what? My dog does not react to verbal commands. Ha, ha! What a dog! What a jolly animal. Running among the jolly streets, the jolly screeching of tires, random curses, potential lawsuits, oh ha, ha, ha, living the dream of Man’s Best Friend…Listen: Velveeta is formless. Tabula rasa. A friend with cheese is a friend indeed. Something.

*

Yes, this book stumbles through itself, in search of itself, learning to bend and snap, discovering the depths and directions of its voice and at the end pops out this layered clump, like a rubberband ball with a pulse, that bounces around us and stretches thoughtshapes in and out and back again and we get all smiley, not really knowing what to say or think.

*

Hey, all you communist bastards, you fish-forgetters, you fruit fly fuckers who bang on Flash Fiction, check out these snow globes by Walter Martin and Palamo Munoz.

What’s my point? My point is take note. Click the link. The snow globes ARE flash fiction. Megadecahedron on your ass. Hey you: Stop eating pretentious lunches, like olives and shit, you flash haters, you Neanderthals of the long leg Daddy variety, you flashcists. Punks.

Oh, I bet you suck olives.

I bet you eat multiple varieties of olives.

Pretentious ass! (Lover of silver SUV with Jesus fish; long walks on the cooling bodies of superstars died early; wearer of black ski masks with mouths outlined in yellow; etc.)

*

I don’t know Casey Hannan’s work, but I am going to get to know it. This flash (over at wigleaf is one of the best I’ve seen over there, and I have seen plenty of glow over at the leaf. It catches a moment, then collects the prisms of the moment, the multiple angles of split light. Interior, exterior, the cigarette and the ash, the lips and lungs (and heart). See, flash is light, a flashlight. It illuminates, captures a beaming moment, lets you listen to the scurrying right outside the beam, in the dark.

You love wordplay, so you howl until it transforms into a scissored cough, like your breath is caught in a rock tumbler. I realize this will be your last cigarette ever. You bleed your coughs onto the shoulder of your t-shirt in big, tacky blotches, and you say, “This is it, Case, my only chance to do something like this before I die. I’m dyeing, God, how I’m dyeing this shirt right in front of you.”

*

My lunch was all European, all junque cosmopolitan, olives and blue cheese olives and hummus and brick-bread and almonds (king of the nuts), and a little Fat Tire, Fat Tire, a beer on the cusp, the little shimmering cusp, of obnoxiousness. I see one more semi truck plastered in FAT TIRE and I’m going to get off my feed, going to chuck a lug, going to pour grape juice marinade on the cuticles of my…something. OK, we had people by last night and I now eat leftovers. This lunch made me feel like a normal human being.  Or like the value of my house dropped yet another 10 grand or that Boeing launched a 787 Dreamliner

or

–I wanted you to actually hear what I’m saying.

–What was that?

–the wind picked up…

–There’s only one thing really wrong with him.

or:

*

More and more often I don’t ‘understand’ Blake Butler’s blog.

One time I was in Chicago and this woman approached me and I was all feeling inside like “wow I like when women approach me” and she got really close, sort of like artist-in-the-anticipation-of-needs close or like swans in a floral arrangements close (anyway), and she said in this sort of haltingly with an accent voice: “Do. You. Know this. Blake Boootttleerr?”

And I said, “Blake Butler? Yeh I know him.”

And she said, “Can youse. Show him. To me.”

So I walked her over to see Blake Butler and we both stared at the back of his head, from a distance. And she said, “Tank. You.”

*

Steve Stringer has a wonderful touch over at Juked, with Seaplanes. It’s a little Carver and certainly a shake of Denis Johnson, but he avoids the derivative, with crisp scene-setting, with an occasional jarring transition, and an oft memorable line. Don’t know much about Stringer myself, but will keep my antennae up.

He says he shoplifted gospel cassettes, says he filched from the collection plate, says sometimes he prayed to basketball players instead of God. He says when he worked in the morgue he was coming off a morphine addiction. When no one was around, he’d peel back the fentanyl patches off the bodies, prick a hole in the patch with a pin, and lick the gel. He says he’s sorry.

He just sits there frozen and dry like astronaut food.

*

At decomP I enjoyed this by Robert Laughlin:

The parade moved on, but not the elephant that collapsed in the city’s busiest intersection. People in their stalled cars watched a city truck arrive. The city men planted a sign in the asphalt: ASIAN ELEPHANT/ELEPHAS MAXIMUS
IN PROCESS OF NATURAL DECAY
FINE FOR REMOVAL

*

Fog gets a big ol’ review here at Faster Times.

What? You want me to answer even more questions about Fog? That type of thing fascinates you, along with cockroaches and snorting Dexedrine off the top of church pews? Ok, then, I answer questions about Fog for NANO Fiction.

Here, I slap a canoe rack of my glow Outback:

Placing a canoe rack feels glow because I know I have done something. When I write, I am not sure I have done a damn thing. And it goes on and on and to thread one’s way unseen through the world must feel wonderful, so to speak…something.

*

I am now reading Today and Tomorrow by Ofelia Hunt.

Bill Murray’s face is on the cover, always a very good sign.

“R2D2 was a great guy and a fine actor.”

-Bill Murray

*

Would everyone please shut the fuck up about Shark Week?

*

Hill workouts. Are they effective?

1. East Africans have been traipsing up and down the steep slopes of the Great Rift Valley for millennia.

2. Hill muscles and sprint muscles are almost exactly the same.

3. While every other runner dreads hills, why not make them your specialty? Then you approach the hill and think, “I’ve got them now.”

4. Hills develops coordination, encouraging the proper use of arm action.

5. Hills are a grind. Every runner must grind. Must fuck grind, love grind, sweet milk of grind embrace grind. Know grind. Lick grind. Grind. I can’t even tell you how much of my running career has been built on grind, or as one coach told me way, way, way back in high school:

“Sean, you’re strength is your strength.”

Meaning I don’t stop. I grind.

6. Running hills make you better at…running hills.

Just did 9 minutes at 2% grade, 9 at 3%, 9 at 4%, 9 at 5%, 9 at 6%, 3 at 7%. I am now sweat-slicked and legs all undressed and winnowed Tree and sigh, sigh muscles and I need a beer.

*

I kind of dig this photo of Jesus.I ripped it from Vouched. Who knows where they ripped it from.

*

You people who hate flash are still here?You damn kite stranglers! You Shrunken Strunks & Whites. You baa, baa, baa haters. You postnasal lopper-gangers! You fountain pens filled with troll heavens. You mes! You memory hazers. You slap boxes! You TVs! You slow, slow cult. You Sheriffs! You tornado Sheriffs! You posh costumes of baleful asthma. You curds. Well.