Monthly Archives: June 2009

Peruvian Nachos. Four Minute Workout. Sucker Fish Blues. A Fucking Minotaur. Question for Sally the Runner.

south nachos

I have decided to beat my 41 days streak of nachos. Why? Well, lately I’ve felt spiritually lonely, adrift, abandoned on the beach of this planet, in a miasma/jellyfish glob of purposeless night thought, with no rhyme or reason to my life, no guide, no siren or beacon or call, no image (sorry Farrah) or word (sorry Billy Mays) or song (sorry Michael) that can provide an answer, no destiny but the sad one I build, build, build and un-build daily, daily brick on crumbling brick,  as I…I…I forget what I am saying. The wind bends the trees outside my window, and I hear the roar  of the garbage truck making its rounds. Bird feeder like a skeleton of sky. There is a fly in here buzzing and I am thinking about Emily D or maybe that poem where a wasp drops into the cake batter. Like that.

So I decided the answer is nachos.

Tonight went with one of my South American selections (but that’s obvious isn’t it–the kidney bean is native to…?), recipe #114 (Western hemisphere; I actually begin numbering anew [and backwards, just like the toilets flush] once we switch to eastern nachos, the various chip/flattened bread platforms, secondary bean strata, etc.,) Vallejo‘s Revenge. The green sauce is native to Peru, basically mineral water (fuck vinegar! Bane of hot sauce!), sea salt, with a touch of cilantro, diced lime, shot of pisco, and three reduced rocoto peppers.

(If you can’t find rocoto peppers, substitute three ounces of tequila. If you can’t find pisco, substitute a canteen of Robitussin. If you can’t find true love, substitute a life of constant physical activity and/or chess, Chevy Chase during his funny period [3 movies and 1.4 years of SNL], and maybe Nintendo and vanilla extract on weekends.)

They tasted like telephone blush.

like industrial glee.

like blar me. Or rotations of blar. Golden.

etc.

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[What the fuck is a Tabata Protocol?]

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Dudes, Blake Butler has a pretty cool post about his book physically arriving. I thought the Ever arriving post way back was better, but this one made me happy too.

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Got my Quick Fiction 15 in the mailio. I am reading it now. And now.

Will report more later, as I just cracked it open. But already I like Daniel E. Wickett’s work, as it reminds of O’Hara, or those “Beat” (Sorry to all of those who hate that term, or any terming/summing up, as in label) poets who wrote about the mystery and magic of the every day, every single day.

Michael Meyerhofer works in an office a few doors down from mine and I often pass his name on the office, outside the office, and I think, “Man, I see that guy’s name everywhere” and by everywhere I mean in literary things online and in print and then sometimes on poems I find posted on walls or walls of my mind or even once a poem as a cloud, or a poem as dachshunds running through fields of wheat or something like that similar. Like that. That.

His thing is a good thing in Quick Fiction.

It imagines the earth as lover. As erogenous zone. As alive and  swollen with desire.

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Question for Sally the Runner:

Q: Sally, I love your column (and your thighs. Ha!). You often write about a “Runner’s High.” Have you ever experienced a similar high while not running?

A:

Yes. Drugs, particularly pethidine. Downhill snowboarding, especially when I tried Black Diamonds (more a falling than control). Sometimes during sex, if slow and sustained sex, which is pretty unusual for me. I know this one young man and all we did was kiss, for hours. That’s all, for months of a relationship. Very odd. And, sometimes in our kissing, I felt a runner’s high. I mean we were like kissing artists by this time. We went to some very deep and strange places in our kissing, into caves and labyrinths of the mind. Wine, if light and dry and Muscatine (I make this on my stove), and if I have not eaten in days. Or if very dehydrated while drinking the wine. Hooking a big deep seawater fish, when the line is singing. Right there, when the line is about to break, the humming thrum. The last few yards when a large monkey is about to close within blowgun range, which means twenty feet, so immediate and huge—the taste of adrenaline in my mouth, copperish. I’ve also caught this flow during dancing, back years ago when I danced, but then again I was always intoxicated when dancing, or on some potent drug. Lastly, I once caught a runner’s high when at about 10,000 feet in the Himalayas (Pakistan Nanga range), as I peered over a ridge, into a deep valley, where a bull yak was fighting another for control of a harem of cows. This back-dropped by brilliant white snow. The clashing and running and bugling yak. This rumpled massive sheet of snow. Surreal. And I couldn’t figure out if I was seeing, or in a dream/drug wash, or even alive. Well, I was floating. And I always float during a runner’s high.

(I hope this helps, Dear Reader. BTW, one of the best workouts to obtain this “high” is the new Tabata Protocol. All the kids are raging over this one. Sally says, Give it a try!)

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Took Little Man fishing, the best activity for the Art and Science of Little Man. He can not read books yet but is getting rather good at reading the eddies and commas and sentences/lines of a river. If you didn’t know a river is a wonderful moving book, I feel sorry for you.

You still have time, though.

focus fishing

Zen-like focus.

Results in a sucker fish. Fish so ugly, it is beautiful, no?

sucker

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The New Yorker?

Yes, they can be elitist. Yes, you can turn past the political essays, they are often weak. Yes, for a long while, the weekly short story (please give a hand; they still print a weekly story) was mixed bag, lower yawn, and getting formulaic, the “New Yorker” story, but still, still, still, sometimes this magazine slays the dragon. They get it right. I have noticed this year the fiction has been on! (The poetry is never on.)

This story be rad to the bad-ass highway dogs of room blue/yellow. A fucking Minotaur and a little girl. An odd wonderful sandwich of a story, hatching chrysalis blur.

I think you should get over your prejudice against The New Yorker and read Ziggurat now.

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I just ran a new workout that takes four minutes. Did I mention it takes 4 minutes? Four minutes it takes. A workout. Four. Minutes. What is this, an infomercial?

The Tabata Protocol (wicked name)

Workout is Japanese and like their game shows, nuts.

“On paper, the Tabata Protocol offers a quick way to get fit in just four minutes of high-intensity work per session. But don’t be misled: This regimen is grueling. It was originally developed for Olympic-caliber athletes, and Dr. Tabata reported that they were wiped out by the routine.”

I went with 5:27 pace, since first time. I am sitting here now dripping sweat. After-sweat. Pretty good leg burn, residual glow. Lungs kinda hollowed out good. Need to go faster next time, and I will, I will, I will…

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Honestly. I wish I was a braver man.

DSC00927

S

Laura Ellen Scott goes Kinda Odd, as In Good.

An atypical one today at the Wigleaf Top Fifty, Laura Ellen Scott’s Render, or to Transmit to Another

It is at elimae. It is at elimae. It is at elimae.

My head dried stick to the ground…

Opening line: “It has been a couple of years since a woman I did not know sent me by email, the picture of her fiance’s corpse.”

Voice established, and voice is key here, in that a strange, unsettling tale is spun out, but also a character–the narrator–is revealed. I really admire this flash for how is is NOT like many others. We all know flash is often image based, leaning poetic, a burst, a bang, a fade-out of sensory blur near the conclusion…all of that. And I love those flashes, but look what is going on here:

1.) A story told not shown. (A friend of mine said all fairy tales are told, not shown. Is this a fairy tale? Discuss.)

2.) Almost a 19th century, Chekhovian feel to the voice. “Dear reader, come with me to discuss this incident…”

I mean to say accumulation: “business” “contract” “formalized conclusion”

My head by the bed, red shoes.

The words merge, couple, thread throughout to give us an atmosphere…

office-workers

I mean to say Bartleby, the Scrivener (one of the oddest stories ever, and a line I steal often…Sean, stop drinking that giant beer, Sean stop eating nachos 41 days in a row, Sean, get off the treadmill….I would prefer not to.”)

Opening of Bartleby: “I am a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written:—I mean the law-copyists or scriveners.”

My head all sings when he stripes shirts.

Like Melville here, or certainly Chekhov in many of his excellent (and often overlooked) flash fictions, Laura Ellen Scott (for some reason I like typing out her entire name) opens us up to a glimpse, a moment/movement, a fable (?), cracks open, I want to use the word exquisite, or create an image here of a jeweled Faberge egg. Now open the egg; I think it has a golden hinge. Inside the egg is a slip of paper. Folded. What is the meaning of the paper? Unfold the paper. Carefully.

I’d like to return to voice. I want to say haunting. It seems the narrator had this happen, and now is changed, disturbed (as in awoken some way), some residue of the event hanging in the air. Isn’t it the same with Bartleby? I suppose I keep comparing the two as a form of compliment, and a working out in my mind, or: How do these stories do this?

3.) A series of declarative statements, almost a wisdom.

“There was no foul play.”

“My parents, like your parents, believed that the whole of life is construction: collect, make.”

“Experience, for example, is a word for something that never happens, and yet its four syllables build an arc of rising and falling action.”

wool

Let’s return to voice, or narrator. We feel we can follow. We actually trust. And the matter-of-fact telling, the purposeful psychic distance (cool, calm, there is nothing hysterical or dramatic, and we are discussing a corpse here!) somehow attracts the reader, deepens us into the tale.

My head all thinning mints. Thinning mints. Dad I’m going to grow up and be a mint-thinner. Fine son. You do that. No idle hands, etc.

Again, I’m not sure how. The technique. And I am dancing around this flash like some insect buzzing a new type of plant it doesn’t quite understand.

Well.

That’s a good thing.

Land.

Inhale.

Read.

*

You go to the ballpark and you eat the nachos. That’s how. Everyone is running around, yammering about The Dream, when all you do is go to ballpark and you eat the nachos. I’ll be damned if I’m not going to…you little!! Come back here! Oh, this is exasperating. GO TO THE FUCKING BALLPARK AND EAT THE NACHOS!!

Ok, calm down…

calm your spirit, Sean.

Sometimes my head feels like a heart, thumping. Or should I say naked as Chit-Chat. Blar.

Citi Field Nachos Stand and Menu

S

The News in the Note of C. Next Marathon?

I got up this morning and wrote my ass off. I wrote about Memphis (TN not Egypt). This is unfortunate since I am a distance runner and don’t have much of an ass. It is hard and scrawny. My mom said her trainer said, “If you have two dents in your butt, you are in shape.”

I have two dents in my butt.

But I always know when I am in “racing shape” because I can not sit in any wooden or metal chairs, like table chairs and so on. My ass will hurt too much. So that’s how I know. This seems very bloggy. To write about butt-dents. Well, at least it’s not calling someone on a cell phone and asking, “Where are you?”

Or fucking Twitter!

Die Twitter!

But I was proud to write that long on a project. I am an unreliable, sometimes insane writer, and might go days, then might write something while drunk at midnight. Luckily, I am a relatively bad writer, so I don’t need too much concentration.

Today I got two email acceptances. That felt OK. I would say where, but one of the pieces I have now changed considerably and want published anew, so sent an email back; and the other I sent some correspondence back on things and am waiting. Sorry to be vague, but have to take care of my bizness, no?

They are print mags.

My big-ass book/collection is out to a contest and then a publisher is reading it now and deciding. I got great feedback from a publisher and it seems maybe close, but we will see. Again, vague. Sorry…

Getting a book published seems like a long, uncertain journey, through sour taffy dropped in sand maybe.

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Ander Monson sent me this link. I really do like it. I mean it’s funny, and you know most links people send are never really so funny. Tnen you have to reconsider the people who sent the link. Then again Ander is actually smart and funny (read his book/books!), so it’s a credibility link-send thing.

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Speaking of running, I have decided on my next marathon: THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE MARATHON

Wow, all military and shit. This should be weird. They do a flyover and a USAF captain places the metal over your neck, if you finish. I hope he doesn’t recruit or try to kiss me, too, but whatever. I don’t know…Main reason I’m running it is because it’s 1.5 hours away and I am only running unique marathons now. No repeats. I am too old for repeats. I want a fresh experience EVERY time.

I am dying…we all are dying….butterflies…

I am way out of shape and usually in pain, so need to crank it back up. Don’t mess with the marathon fool! Today I did Fartlek. I did:

6 min mile X 3min        6 min mile X 3min        6 min mile X 3min

6 min mile X 3min        6 min mile X 3min        6 min mile X 3min

5:56 mile.

No biggie, but a good start to getting into shape…

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DSC00932

Fuck you, Jerry Falwell! You see my friends got my back!

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The New Dos Equis Ads are Actually Charles Bukowski.

The new Dos Equis Ads are actually Charles Bukowski. Weird.

Image 1:

adtrack-dos-equisx-large

The most interesting man in the world?

DSC00934

Or simply a drunk postal worker/poet?

See…

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8 Count

from my bed
I watch
3 birds
on a telephone
wire.
one flies
off.
then
another.
one is left,
then
it too
is gone.
my typewriter is
tombstone
still.
and I am
reduced to bird
watching.
just thought I’d
let you
know,
fucker.

*

S

Lydia Copeland in the Wigleaf Top 50 House!!

The Sway of Trains in Wigleaf Top 50.

“In the bed at night…” Night thoughts. When we review the day, the days, our days–when we are alone, existentially alone, as in no one on the earth can think my night thoughts, but me. That blue space, sidled up and unscrolling. Interstitial. Something about night thoughts, some enriched air of the mind, maybe because we are finally, finally silent? And isn’t sleep a taste, a sample of death? So before we enter the arms of Morpheus, maybe these thoughts as best, as authentic, as actually crackling real.

“In the bed at night…”

A flash of tone and mood. The author seems to feel what we feel here, the serious carefulness of each word (reminds me of “Night” by Brett Lott, a haunting story, but always cold, hushed, quiet…). Copeland’s work here whispers along, “moving,” “looking,” “…through the long hollow.”

Form=Function. A text of reflection, and what is reflection? What are thoughts, that moment. Floating. Drifting. Synapses crackling, a quiet sizzle. An echo. A wave off a wave. A spin and angle. Reflection. Thought and mirror, mirror and thought…

What amazes me here are the transitions. “Bed at night” to “conversations” to “in the living rooms” to “the bay and the ducks” to a bed, an intimacy, and “Your hands fold under my pillow.”

This piece actually flows, spirals and eddies, like thought, consciousness, a tributary to tributary to the cognitive sea.

And what moves me in this flash fiction (and many others) are the spaces. I get to fill them in. Here we get the form of thought, the brush strokes of juxtaposition, the way our mind “works,” the way we, as reader, are allowed to work. That’s what I want from flash (and from poetry), to add my thoughts to the spaces, to read off the page, to join the writer in rounding out the form.

People who don’t “get” flash make one of their errors here. They see the short story form as more complete. Maybe. But some readers desire the undone, the stitch, the dim and clear/clear and dim flickering, the starlit, the stars, all the space/spaces in-between.

I believe there is a war against the imagination. Flash fights for the good guys. It says, “Add your part to the page, actively.”

It says Join.

Copeland gives us tone and mood. Objects and image. But for story, there is one, many–like a painting, or the shape of a certain cloud–and then the one you name, and write yourself.

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worlds_largest_nachos

I had a dream last night….

S

How Artie Lange Relates to Literary Magazines…

Anyone see comedian Artie Lange takeover and destroy broadcaster Joe Buck’s new HBO show a few days ago? Joe Buck seemed to have forgotten that HBO is LIVE and CABLE. Artie went exponential Artie, and Buck suddenly looked like someone over their skis, and naked.

Here

Here

Some video here (HBO, Buck’s lawyers removed the earlier material from the web, but here is a bit still online, and very Artie Lange, as in purposely offensive)

slapclap_artie-lange

Artie, kicking it…

Afterward, Job Buck acts all disingenuous, all self-righteous, claiming Artie wrecked his opening show, blah, blah, as if he didn’t know Artie Lange’s humor, that Artie is a PERSONA, dumb-ass, a heroin addict homophobic fat guy drunk, another in the long line of “slob as out-sized outsider” comedians [fill in obese comedian who uses their image as material here].

[Fill in the ones who bought so much into their image they couldn’t separate id and ego/superego, and died young here]

And HBO sports executive Ross Greenburg is clearly full of shit. He says:

“Frankly, we were stunned.”

And

“I think most people realized we were blindsided.”

Right…LISTEN:

Artie has made millions (and lost millions) being Artie. And if you book him on your HBO show, he will arrive as Artie. Just like Marilyn Manson will arrive in his persona (vampire/Goth/whatever) and David Letterman will arrive in his (Ah shucks, I’m just a Midwestern middle American, d-uh) and on and on.

Both will arrive via limo, BTW…

And so–assuming Buck isn’t playing me right now, and wasn’t in on the whole thing–how does Joe Buck’s awkwardness during Artie’s rants, then sad and phony “shock” afterward at Artie’s behavior relate to lit mags?

Good question.

One of the last class sessions of every semester I hold a “How to Get published” class. This is an opportunity for the students to gain some insights I’ve gleamed from years of this funny, funny world of publishing. I have many tips, and naturally, the best thing to do is revise/revise/revise and have a quality piece of writing, but there are also other things.

DSC00929

Persona Dennis Rodman kicking it in my office…

My number one tip: KNOW YOUR MAGAZINE.

If you are going to “book” a magazine for your show (submission), then know something about the magazine. If you don’t you are going to get rejected, rightly so, like when Artie Lange looks right at Joe Buck and says, “Your show sucks. You should have stuck to broadcasting.”

Read the magazine. Several issues. Visit the magazine’s website. Look at the authors in the magazine. Read the contributor notes. Read every piece in the magazine. If you don’t like the magazine’s content, why in the hell are you sending your work there? Look at the language, structure, themes, tone. Look at the cover. The spine. Does the paper smell good? Sniff the magazine. (Online–just press your nose to the screen)

Is this excellent magazine like this excellent magazine??

Uh, no.

When I worked at Black Warrior Review, we would get thousands of poems. All types and shapes and skiing with brothers. So maybe one day a packet of Christian poetry arrives, rhyming evangelical work….

Is there anything wrong with that work? No. Plenty of magazines out there would adore and publish the poems.

NOT BWR!!

Obviously, the poet had not even read our magazine. That’s an insult to itself.

A few years back, writers would have to subscribe to every lit mag, or find them in the library. Not all writers had the cash to do this, or if they had the cash, they spent it on weed or veggie corn dogs or palm readers or golden dragon charms or loutish crowd activities, etc. . No worries now. Almost any magazine (and obviously online ones) have a web presence, with excerpts, with opportunities and images and words to get to know the magazine.

BTW, you should subscribe now to what you can afford. If you don’t support lit mags, as a writer, who will?

Artie Lange?

Artie_68715

Uh, no.

On the same subject, Kyle Minor told a funny story a while back. He was visiting BSU, and we had him meet with some students and one of them asked, “How do I get published?”

Kyle told the students about the years he spent sending stories in and all his rejections, the usual writer/rejection path of badness/goodness. But then he told a hilarious story about editors not only rejecting him with the usual canned form letters, but then adding in handwriting “Never send here again” or “This story is so bad, you should quit writing.”

I have no idea if Kyle was using hyperbole, but it was a funny story.

The point of the story was that one year Kyle broke through; he started publishing. Consistently. Why? Well, obviously, after years of honing his craft, he was a better writer.

But he said this: “I started putting conflict in the first sentence, on the first page. That was the difference.”

If you read Any Kyle Minor, you will know this is true. His stories start hot, then turn up the heat. And you should also know most editors read your FIRST PAGE, then nothing more (I don’t blame them. They have, uh, lives, and more submissions than you would know.)….unless you give them a reason to read more, as in conflict.

Throw a fit.

Arrive late.

Dress in black…

Blow something up.

hellmuth

Persona Phil Hellmuth kicking it in my office…

S


I decided I needed some brie.

I decided I needed some brie. I thought, “Brie. I need Brie.” I knew my life would change with brie. Almost all women with the name of Brie are attractive, and also many of your better writer parties (wooden floors, secretive cats, cool eyeglasses, cheesy dude with ponytail [throat-clearing sound here] all that) serve Brie. Brie would elevate and sparkle like suitcases unpacked late at evening, or maybe marigolds made of butter. Like that. Very Brie.

One time at writer party my friend got on his vintage bike and then we built a ramp (seemed like good idea at time) in the street then we lit the ramp afire with quality vodka and then another guy sprawled out below the ramp and my friend jumped over him on the vintage bike and I think maybe broke the bike but the memory appears here and now as whole.

Question: Why did my brie have so many layers of packaging?

DSC00926

1.) Package, cardboard. Colors less vibrant than I expected. My mind kept going, “Jello” while thinking, “Brie.” Like two things at once. If you grab a very hot plate, your mind will go, “Drop the plate!” and at the same time, “Don’t drop the plate! The plate will break.” Two thoughts simultaneously. Like that.

At Mexican places they always go, “Hot plate! Hot plate!” Like I am an idiot or a lawyer (but I repeat myself there).

In disc golf putting, they say, “Have a positive thought as you putt. That way no negative thought could get in.” I told my friend this and he said, “That’s bullshit. Only dumb people can’t have more than one thought at once. Most other people do it all the time. That’s why we are all neurotic.”

Hmmm…

2.) Remember back when we were all crazy and supposed to hate French people? It was like our government was saying, “People of the states. Like this. Hate that.” I never got that one. Then in one of those wars Turkey didn’t let us use the Northern front, and no one said, “No turkey this thanksgiving!”

20030320-freedom-fries

And I love French Fries.

Sometimes people go, “Sean, when’s the last time you ate a vegetable? And I say, ‘Fries this afternoon, about four.'”

* McDonald’s has best fries, but I boycott McDonald’s. Have not eaten there for over a decade (since I did research on an article about their food practices for a small magazine in Tuscaloosa, AL).

* Burger King fries suck and taste like grease.

* Wendy’s fries OK if minutes fresh. Company adds too many fragments and also doesn’t mind serving blackened, stubby fries.

* Backyard Burger has best fries (also rings) I can ethically eat. They also have black bean burger. All you fast food places that will not serve black bean burgers, I hope you fall into a Volkswagen, or at least a malaise of the soul.

FriesRings

3.) Then a big-ass can for the brie, like a cat food can, or tuna. Weird. This is some serious-ass cheese. This can could handle bomb damage, or like your dad mentioning he likes your shirt. Like that.

4.) Then a crinkly, waxy foil-like covering. You could free-base on this foil, but I wouldn’t.

5.) Brie is a soft cow cheese. What is a soft cow? If I was a cow, that would insult me.

Hey man! You calling me soft? How about I get these horns and go exponential on your ass, city boy!!

(Big cow roar here. Hooves and dust, all that.)

6.) Then the skin. Can you eat the skin? Yes, you can. In fact, if you don’t, some people will think you unsophisticated, if you care. You don’t, right? Whew.

Cool thing is French people will describe a cheese as “moldy” and mean it as a compliment.

sheep

BTW, my brie tasted like sponge, with a hint of ammonia. I’m not sure it will change my life, so might move to Alaska, like that Carver story, or the idea that moving around externally will change your internal reality, as if you can escape you, and where to?

Must go teach my summer class now.

S