Monthly Archives: June 2010

Ace 814 Decent 5k Pancake Short Stories Creative Nonfiction Man Bitch Story

Holy Shit Creative Nonfiction is arguing that blog is indeed a genre of CNF. I agree.

Holy shit they are trying to find the glow/glow blog. It’s  a big ol’ contest.

And the finalists are…

American Stories NOW

Angie Muresan

Charlie’s Chatter

First Person

From SoHo to Silo

Here and Far
Incidents and Accidents
Life in a Northern Town
Life Under A Rock
NGM Blog Central
Perceptive Travel
ResidentAlien
Sean Blog
She Sells Seashells
Somnambulist Zine
Terribleminds
The Silhouette
The Ugly Truth

ZYZZYVASPEAKS

That’s right, this very blog is a finalist. The others have cooler names, I feel, and now I have a lot of blog reading to do. Haven’t heard of some of these…but I will.

Hey, you, reader:

Do something lucky. Paint your door with an egg. Embrace gruffness. Scratch the top of your car ceiling. Try to avoid salt, I dare you, I mean avoid its very essence. Carve a tiny door into an egg. Tie a rubber band around your ears. Siphon off all your ability and place it into a capsule and feed a tiny bird the capsule. Throw a full bottle of Lorrie Moore at a gymnasium. Cross your fingers and kiss your wife and boyfriend at midnight. (You don’t have a boyfriend or a wife?–my email is right up there.) Eat ham hocks, collard greens, patches of hair, whipped hair, donuts, oversized comic book covers, Merton Lee, and nachos.  Remove the roof of your house. Fill your bathtub half full of water and drop a silver coin into it. Position the tub so that the light from the moon shines into the water. Gently sweep your hands just above the surface, symbolically gathering the Moon’s silver. Shoot an arrow into the house of your mailman. Hit a car with your dog. Blubber dryly–try to. Bake your cellphone into the center of a cake. When the phone rings, go fishing. Snort a crushed dream. Snort algae. Snort me. Kill a rabbit and chew off its foot and attach the bloody foot to your key chain. Slide your naked body over freshly cut grass. Take a photo of your photo self. Set all of your work on the east coast. Hold your breath when you pass Cracker Barrel. Take a green candle; dip it into some orange juice then light it.  Jump over the candle saying:

Blog, blog, dippety snog,
Now I feel like beery fog…

(Drink 14 beers)

Whatever.

What do I do for luck?

Holy shit I tie my hair off the side like that girl in Napoleon Dynamite

she be weird/cute

cute/weird

and I put on some underwear and a nice shirt and make my 814th ace and set my basket on fire, on fire, my lovelies, oh my, oh my, I feel like a flower blooming atop a gutter, you know, when you have not cleaned out the gutters and the plants trickle up, a little contrast, house and flora, man and nature…I dedicate this ace to vegetarian burgers and the Coast Guard.

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Are you a Hollerado fan? You should be, I suppose. Why? They throw nacho parties!

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Holy skull-rattle. Have you read “Man Bitch” by Craig Snyder over at Juked?

Man Bitch meets the girl with large shoulders outside Krispy Kreme donuts, in sunshine.  They talk and wait for the bus together standing 16 inches apart, with variations up to 24 inches.  Man Bitch notices the large shoulders and likes them.  Feelings of fullness, 33% manliness, and the idea he may be completely fucked, are generated in the Man Bitch brain.  Man Bitch starts to feel like he is on heroin or something and is going to die, but he doesn’t.  He has the sensation of becoming a large vibrating egg.  He smokes nervously and wishes he were taller.

You just read that opening and I know you want more. Go ahead, click the link and read more.

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Ran a 5k last Saturday. It was held to raise $$ for cancer and both my parents have dealt with the big C and so I usually jump into races like that and I drove down there now, there now to New Castle (I like towns named after beers and beers named after towns) and I sat in the car all waiting for the race, all waiting, and what do I do when waiting, like dentist office, oil change, sitting in car??

1. Play my brother in iPhone chess. He has pretty much beat my ass and it makes me madly. I used to kick dino-ass in chess. My only excuse is I prefer an actual board, not a flat screen, but that is possibly a lame excuse. The fact is I have been losing in chess.

2. Drink coffee. (5k tip for you freak-os: many studies have shown that caffeine will improve your race performance.)

3. Read.

What’s that perched atop my 5k gear?

It is Trilobites & Other Stories by Breece d’j Pancake.

What do I think/know?

1. Cool name. The name was a typo by The Atlantic and Breece decided to clutch. This shows you a bit about his personality. He’s keen enough to not take himself that seriously, and when he sees serendipity, he snags it…I mean it is a glow name. You’re going to drink a beer with a guy named Breece d’j Pancake.

2. He can write, let’s make that clear. I mean on the sentence level. You can feel him whittling the sentence out of basswood or pine.

A gray ooze of light began to crest the eastern hills above the hollow and sift a blue haze through the black bowels of linking oak branches.

3. These stories are his only ones. He didn’t write many. Why? Because he carefully worked/chiseled/crafted his fiction. And he killed himself at age 26.

4. With just a bit of research, I immediately found that we (readers, critics, etc.) are to believe Pancake’s stories are holy, are whispered of, are the real deal, a flame too soon extinguished, a real man of American letters. His work is revered, usually by those who write realism themselves and most likely because he is very skilled (also the suicide).

5. I found the stories uneven. Almost all are good, OK, no doubt, but “Trilobites” and “First Day of Winter” (the first and last in the collection) are superior–perfect realism grounded in place, the voices spot on, the pacing, the atmosphere of fatalistic sadness, the individual caught in the reality of a larger, lower world. Two stories (“Hollow” and “The Salvation of Me”) came across a bit sloppy, a bit forced, both in situation and characterization.

[“Hollow” does do an excellent job of using the jargon/terminology of coal mining to poetic effect: seam, glitter, clam crawl,  light-flash, bloom pile, “bucket tin buckled” ]

One of my favorites was actually a creepy, semi-mystery story: “Time and Again.” It’s the sort of trick story my students always try to pull off–the Ah-ha! Well, Pancake unfolds it expertly, and it shows his understanding of structure and craft. Edgar Allen Poe would have glowed this story.

6. If you’re going write fiction, you should read this book. You should know it, I mean. A fiction writer doesn’t need to glow all the previous authors, but she does need to KNOW them: Chekhov, O’ Connor, etc. Have them in your quiver. Pancake’s is a certain genre of fiction–soaked in place, shrouded in coal dust and hollers and runover snakes and 10 cent coffee and the screams of truck gears grinding. It has the loner protagonist in it (a genre all itself).

7. Two Pancake techniques I most enjoyed:

* Pancake often liked to open with a natural setting, usually juxtaposed to his character, their mind and situation:

Alena stepped under the awning of the Tastee Freeze and looked out at rain draining into the dust, splattering craters with little clouds. When it stopped, cars hissed along the highway in whorls of mist.

The roads curve tight, but around them is a sort of scar of clay, and the leaves have a purplish blight.

Now he could see the first blue blur of morning growing behind bare tree branches, and beyond them the shadows of the farm.

* Second, he does this cool thing where the writing eye jumps to an animal. The lens leaves our human characters and wonder/wanders off into the forest, the glen, the roadside shrubbery. I found this fascinating, the way Breece nods his head to nature, to its role, to its presence and destruction (most of these stories set in coal country). So many writers leave our fellow animals out. Breece knew them well and reminded me of Faulkner and his horses (Go read all of Faulkner and count the horses).

The opossum lay quietly by the roadside. She had found no dead farm animals in which to build her winter den; not even a fine empty hole.

Two miles beyond, an owl watched a meadow from the branches of a dead hickory tree. Hidden in the underbrush, the fox watched the owl and the meadow.

So, read Breece d’j Pancake. I did. Then I went and ran my 5k in 17: 57, for fifth overall, and to win my age division…

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I just did 142 pushups. Time to broil some corn tortillas.

S

Belly Dancer Toussaint Horse Track Vagina

We went Egyptian. I like Egyptian. It makes my head go whoosh-whoosh. Sometimes I felt like a 45′ vertical jump. Sometimes I felt like oranges tumbling onto a wooden floor. Meaning: I like restaurants that will serve someone who does not want to eat cardboard or meat or industrial Bad Faith, but I repeat myself.

I went to The Nile.

[But not the actual Nile. The actual Nile is not the biggest river in the world. It is the longest. It is like Longplayer. Longest song in the universe (1000 years trying for), but not the biggest.]

The biggest song in the universe is most likely by The Smiths.

Last great crooner!

Would I sleep with Morrissey?

Does a bear leap in the hoods?

Helllooooooooooooooooooooooooo

{Mowed the yard drunk. Felt so productive…all those shimmering rows}

A belly dancer! OK. But personal boundaries, or like belly-too-close-to-my-food, or maybe the Bedleh (white) too flashy/flingy in my face while I try to eat Fool (lovely dish, fava beans and various herbs), while armband shimmer/castanet clapper-brains, and the dollar bills shoved in midriff, shoved in bra-like contraption/clothing don’t know but loud/close/OK now my beer is kicking in and I like you maybe but then she grabs a long dagger/whoa dagger and does things–not so nice to stare or possibly the opposite–I am expecting flames soon. Dagger, dagger, dagger, silvery blade.

{How to build a persimmon-whipper. Get skinny stick. Sharpen point. Put persimmon on end. Whip that persimmon into the sky!!}

All up in my table vapor!

Well, guess I’ll drink my first beer from Cypress.

Light yet succulent.

Cypress is a lovely island.

(Cucumber and tomato are used widely in salads.)

I would like to meet Lady Gaga on Cypress and play chess.

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Over at Bookslut, Elizabeth Ellen is stalking Dave Eggers.

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I write everything in threes now. If I write one thing, one idea, I then go and write two more. So I wrote a World Cup flash/poem thing. Then I wrote two more World Cup poem/flash things. I will kick them into the guarded goal of the world later.

Gggggggggooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

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Just finished Camera by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

I am so fucking smart I read French books! Ha, ha, my head is a fucking scrub pine all up in your landscape, all up in the banks of your mind-ponds, where you catch catfish and fry their tails into potato chips.

AND

I ripped the plastic splash-guard off my Subaru’s oil pan with my bare hands!

I’m fucking functional over here, Chief!

Then I read Some People by Chris Diken.

Whoa, chapbooks, eh? What’s next, you art-fart, an ironic T-shirt and brie?

crumbly, crumbly…I feel crumbly….

No.

But.

Both interest me as books of ideas, stories that ground themselves in place and objects (a urinal, a camera) but then use that concrete reality as a catalyst for introspection, as a T shirt launcher of thought. Diken’s book is a story (18pp) about a man standing in front of a urinal, but his character’s take/humorous situation/expansion of place into thought, etc. are exactly what Toussaint does in a larger form (Oddly, Touissaint even includes a long scene where the character is also using the bathroom), repeatedly, on a ferry, in a phone booth, in a bureau of driver’s license, and so on. Both books are playful, but both pick at real philosophy. Both are odd, odd in the way of ideas. Both take the story/book form and use it as a machine, to explore something else.

Both are worth a read, folks.

[Why does my brother beat me in iPhone chess? WTF!!!!! Am I getting slower, is that it?]

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I won at the horse tracks. Who does that? Not me, very often.

Some lady stole my bar stool.

Man, lizards all over the bar. It’s awesome. You think, “What would be a cliche type of people at a horse track bar”? Visualize, visualize–that’s exactly what the bar looked like, yep. Smoke and skin and smoke and jaundice and scrawny me yelling, “SIMMER DOWN 8, SIMMER DOWN!!!!!!”

[My brother taught me to scream SIMMER DOWN! so I thank him here, in this space and time.]

Here is my WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER BLUE PLATE THOUSAND ISLAND PORKCHOP system. You can have my system, free of charge.

Always play a 3 horse exacta box. Let the computer randomly pick the first two horses. Then add the # 1 horse. I always, always play #1. If the computer picks #1, then play #9 or #5 or #4.

Or just play an exacta with the # 1 in second.

Now you are a winner.

“The track takes 15 percent, but what’s 15 percent of a dream?”

Charles Bukowski

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Uh, KGM claims her vagina is a book. This link will take you to a photo of her vagina, so if you are into vagina photos go right ahead freak-o

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Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people
on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been
gathered

but it was one place

And you weren’t here

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Email yourself and then refuse to answer.

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elimae with Sara Levine with Psychic and We Have Everything We Need to Make the Journey Already.

Both of these are badass.

Go read.

Go read like clearing throat

like soaking back

like double-feature tumbling, oh my.

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Waaa, waaaaaaaaaaaa I found a metal hook in my nachos.

Shut-up, lady. Just thank God you are actually eating nachos.

eating nachos

eating nachos

eating nachos

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Blar me

S

Consequences by Lincoln Michel

Another wigleaf Top 50 would be Consequences by Lincoln Michel.

I read it 7 times, just to get the movement. This is a tight clock of movement, understand? I didn’t. So I read it 7 times. See, this piece jumps somehow, the way green darts of water frogs leap from the throb of my approaching push mower. Yet I can’t really tell you anything about frog-jumping. I just see this zip of jade.

I’m talking about movement:

I once knew a girl who’d been smothered with a pillow by her lover.

That’s a great opening line. And I think the girl is dead now. But then we get a quick reversal, we move back–the girl is alive, but now we are already into:

No one told me any of this before I saw her across the room at a party.

We just zipped from mythology to contemporary realism setting. We moved. It’s like a flashing light and there was something above the light and that felt very heavy on my face.

Zigzagging: producing tension by creating fluctuations of feeling to maintain a high degree of attention.

Thanks, Jerome.

The 1st time I felt I stumbled upon some guitar-riff licking fishing poles sort of thing.

The 2nd time I studied.

the 3rd time I noted many well-rendered sensations.

The 4th time I felt wonder and envy. Who is this Lincoln Michel? [Here u go]

The 5th time I was blotto.

The 6th time I felt like a waitress leaning and waiting to pick up the dishes. I mean I was ready to write my own flash.

the 7th time I exhaled and wrote this blog post.

I was angry and never talked to the girl again.

Cut.

I got a job moving boxes then lost it.

“What do you want, Mr. Lovelace?”

“Smack. To be smacked.”

WANT

OBSTACLE

ACTION

Thank you, Lincoln Michel, for the Consequences.

(all images by Shannan Lee Hayes)

Canoe and Write and Run and Dan Chaon

I took The Boy fishing on the White River. The water was high and rumbled like lips on a wine jug, or maybe a flight museum if all the planes came to life, propeller thrum, etc. After watching quite a few other fisherman just casting randomly, I made sure to teach The Boy how to read a river. While books and minds are important, a person MUST know how to read a river. It’s a masterpiece, this river, I said to my son.

I said, “Son, don’t spook the water you’re about to fish. Those fish will think this canoe is a killer whale.”

I said, “Son, feel this sand (I scooped a bit from a bank); isn’t is cool and marvelous in the hand?”

I said, “Son, fish eddies and riffles and pools. If you’re just going to throw the lure anywhere we might as well be in a Wal-mart parking lot or hell, but I repeat myself.”

I said, “Son, fishing is like the act of love. When you are older, you’ll regret days you didn’t fish, not the ones you did.”

I said, “Son, let’s go light line today. Everything is ten-fold with light line.”

I said, “Son, if you’re not getting hung up on the bottom, you’re not fishing in the right place.”

I said, “Son, pass me that massive, massive beer from the Igloo cooler.”

I said, “Look, son, fools!” Ah, Memorial Day weekend…

[He said, “Dad, why is that woman naked?”]

Drunk, wet, dumb, loud, naked, often underwater. No worries, though. I enjoy the people-watching and most likely these folks (and many others we passed) did not know what they just caterwhomped themselves into. As I said, the river was high. Anyway, no matter the chaos, we caught fish the way a hole in the ground catches the glint of stars. Good times, good times.

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Wow, via HTML, look what Mud Luscious Press is up to.

Love it. Love it!

Everything here is way glow.

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Dark Sky Magazine has a spotlight feature on this Sean Lovelace fellow.

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I’m still in disbelief I signed up for:

The Toughest Road Marathon in the World
The Only Uphill Marathon in the US
6000 ft Elevation Gain

MOUNT LEMMON MARATHON

Man, fuck me. Pain…

This is Ander Monson‘s fault, basically.

OK, so I am IN TRAINING:

I am most worried about the altitude and the mountain lions. I can’t train for those factors. Anyway, I started my training today. I am going to try for primarily slow hills (I have a treadmill with grades) and LONG runs and also dark beer. I will also try to like tackle random dogs I see along the highways. Just pull over, run at the dog, and tackle the thing. I’d also like to eat at a mercantile exchange, like maybe takeout. I’d always had that urge. I’m not even sure what a mercantile exchange is, but fuck it. And I’ll be rattling more doorknobs than usual. If I see a doorknob, I will rattle that doorknob. So I warn you in advance. Are doorknobs slowly becoming extinct? I mean you see a lot of handles and metal bars and like little flippy things and electronic locks and so on, but what about a good old slobber-knocking doorknob? I wonder.

Also I will flutter my eyelids when appropriate.

Also I will AK47 my lungs in the late evenings, particularly Tuesdays.

Also I will tick.

Also I will magic rhythm my shins.

Today:

8.2 mph:

12 minutes at 2%

12 minutes at 3%

12 minutes at 4%

2 minutes at 2%

Not a bad start, good sweat. Legs should feel glow later.

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Dan Chaon glows grief well here, a wigleaf Top 50. Grief as Things Fall Apart, things end (our own lives), and I can’t stop them, I can’t stop them anymore than I could stop rust or an ebbing tide or a crumbling log or a drunk and tumbling Lady Gaga or a sagging bedroom or a crumpled shirt or the moon carving itself into nothing. Look around: Things fall apart. Grief as resentment. Look at them. Look at them, in love, hobbling, hobbling, hobbling–but alive.

It’s a tone piece: shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

So many writers would fuck this up. But Chaon keeps it on keel, quiet, leaves rustling…falling, mulching, into the emerging buds of…

Spring, the season, as most rude reply to death. Most rude.

Late April.

Early May.

Tulips and daffodils and lilacs and budding trees.

I wonder if that would make her happy, to know that the Hobblers were still around. Down the block and back, down the block and back, getting a little exercise. Maybe—probably—she would like it. “Sweet,” she would say.

As for me, I don’t know what I would prefer. I sit at the window, peering out, and I don’t know whether I want to see them, or if I hope that they will never come.

The hurt isn’t that I am going to die, dear blog reader. The hurt is that the day I die you will have a need for low-fat latte, and you will make or buy low-fat latte, and you will drink low-fat latte, and it will be a good low-fat latte.

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What are you looking at?