Tuesday, September 24, 2013


 Hey! Just who is larcenizing what?

10. What I say is unencrypted. I should be cryptic and I’m working that out, in my crypt. Right now, anybody could be cribbing me. Which is cribbage. Goes well with a Mickey Dee’s sandwich, McRibbage. King Tut is also unencrypted. Everyone’s laid bare in the disaster economy!

9. The penalties for theft have gotten lax. You have to take a laxative, which many are taking anyway, voluntarily, at LAX, in the, uh, ‘departure terminal’, wearing sensible slacks, consuming flaxseed among other alternative legumes, super-foods, and avant garde oils.

8. I’m brilliant. I’m the author of The Picture of Dorian Grey’s Anatomy, PJ Harvey’s Bristol Cream, Flotilla the Hun, Junkie in the Trunk, Orson Welles Fargo, and Third Aye Blind, as well as a chapbook, El Pollo Loco Motive, a study of chicken-influenced crimes on the rails.

7. To recapture what I’ve taken from them. Then I steal it back, then they steal it from me, then I steal it back, until we start leaving the writing for each other in the oddest places. In each other’s backpacks. Written in soap on the bathroom mirror. With a deep, penetrating glance.

6. Because the Second World is gone. That is, there are more places to hide. Even if I could find the thieves, what then? Turn them in to the authorities? What authorities? The thieves—are the authorities! They lead a seminar, on their theft. I attend. I eat some Danish. It’s pretty good. (The seminar, not the Danish.) 

5. Both parties love it. I love seeing my words in their paperbacks. I love seeing my words in their blogs. I love seeing my words in their Tweets. I love seeing my words in their thought balloons. Other larcenies are boring! They love it, too. They’re lazy. It nourishes our polemic. It’s a real problem-solver.

4. They have a genetic predisposition. Did they grow up in a tough environment, where plagiarism was the only way out? Heck no. They have a DNA mutiny. They can’t help it. They see my words. They loiter. The next thing you know—they’ve copied and pasted.

Uhhh, okay, Death, you can have my writing.

3. It’s a diversion. This language theft—is a ruse. They’re really coming for something else. My Pilot G-2 Pro? My purple egg? My Max Roach rare OOP? What is it? My Kangol beret? My inflatable comfort mammal? What is it? My renewable social contract?

2. I’m still hot. I keep rebooting the thermometer. Seems like 99.2 is my new normal. Heh heh heh. I plug the thermometer into a USB port, you know, to get the latest update. Thermo 11 point zero zero two. It catches a virus. I catch a virus. I take my temperature. I’m even hotter!

1. I spend too much time in the back room. True, I leave all my syllables unprotected (ripe!) on shelves, in lost and found bins, on coat hangers, on countertops, in manilla folders, on the clothesline, in buckets, all the while I’m in the back … writing … (feverishly!)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


If you must. But no Budweiser!

(1) Don’t describe sex, eh, blow by blow. At the very very most, close the door and talk about the thumping against the headboard or something, but don’t even do that. I once heard a novelist (who had a lisp) read a scene: “He gasthp’t, she gasthp’t!” Enough said.

(2) Don’t say Budweiser ever in a story, especially if the “hero” is drinking it. For that matter, don’t say tall boys, long necks, dead soldiers, Coors or Miller. If you want to say Tuborg Gold—okay, okay, okay, Tuborg Gold.

(3) If you have to have a weeping character, don’t say “the tears rolled down his cheek”. For god’s sakes, man, quantum physics dictates that, in one out of every 100 crying jags, the tears will roll up the cheek. Especially if the dude is bawling upside down.

(4) There’s something in mainstream American fiction about “quiet” stories with vases of flowers on a dinner table. Really? I hereby outlaw flowers, vases, and tables.

(5) Avoid overuse of the verb “to be”. Was this, were that, be this, is that, been who, are what? The sentences start to was, was, was, was, were.

(6) If you’re going to write-in Irish characters, please don’t have them say “fook” or “feck” half the time. I doubt Irish people in general say “fook” or “feck” half the time, but even if they do, it doesn’t automatically make for good fiction.

(7) If something bad happens, say, an assassin hopping out of the curtains, don’t instruct a character to say “Nooooo!” in response. Any of the following—“Huh” or “You don’t say” or “I’ve waited for this all my life”—would be more surprising.

(8) I’m all for odd character names but let’s not get too crazy, okay? A woman named Bubonia or Boeing may be accurate on some level, but will the reader be able to maintain appropriate decorum in the face of such a nom de guerre?

(9) If you don’t have a first sentence that establishes a situation, conflict, or problem, then you don’t have a good first sentence. “Obvi!” 

(10) Okay, so if your story describes two characters having sex in a room filled with Budweiser empties while one character is crying with his tears going up his cheek while a vase of flowers marinates on a table-top—was it? were it?—and the other character said “fook me!”, just before an assassin named Boeing jumps out of the curtains, forcing the other character to say “Nooooo!”, all of this in the very first sentence, then yes, okay, that might make for a good story. Congrats.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Soldiers take a break during Cromwell's March to Dingle

The problem with waging another war isn’t that we might have ‘boots on the ground’, it isn’t that we might have troops ‘in country’, but that we would have personnel ‘in continent.’ This endeavor might necessitate the invention of a field remedy for gas, bloating, and Diaspora. Reflect, we must, on lessons learned from campaigns in world history, such as Cromwell’s March to Dingle. Cromwell himself ‘devoured the bitter berries of conflict’ and spent many days and nights engaged in situational pinching. Of course, war could radicalize a soldier, a corporal who might author, over some stir-fry takeout, his famous digestive tract, Chicken Lo Mein Kampf. No, these are the iPad Thai Cobb Salad Days of our fighting men and women, who should be enjoying careless activities like taking an unexcused absinthe. Or admiring a motor speedway event like the Envy 500. They should be listening to pop music by a group such as Third Eye Blind, the band-mates of whom must’ve masturbated just a little bit extra—to blind the metaphorical eye, too. A declaration of war requires votes by legislators, and the legislators of one party will say “Chappaquiddick Pro Quo” to the legislators of the other party, when trading votes in a bicameral fashion. If there is a war, there must be a financier, and the leading firm is Don Ho Chi Minh Citibank, with Hawaiian muzak playing the lobby of its Vietnamese HQ. We should make sweet, tender love instead. To wit, half our people should be noting the nearness and farness, the nearness and farness, the nearness and farness of the headboard. What else is there? Oooh, let’s inflate our currency and await further instructions!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The 'slap chop' method of putting the shot.

It came to Mono Deity’s attention that two athletes had offered high praise and incantation—“I credit my strength to Mono Deity”, said one, “Mono Deity willing, I’ll prevail”, said the other, the two standing but feet apart, speaking into microphones—the night before a meet. The sport in question amused Mono Deity to no end. “The shot,” explained the Visiting Assistant Deity, “is the heavy little ball. Man tries to ‘put’ the shot, that is, ‘chuck it’, quite far, my Lord, with a sort of shoulder heave.” A cantankerous expression overtook Mono Deity’s features. “The triumphant athlete secures a trunk of gold for this feat?” asked the Supreme Being. “He wins favor with a woman plump to his liking?” The Visiting Assistant Deity clarified that the practice had begun many years before, when the Greeks engaged in Poly Deity worship, and added that the sport, the shot put, was largely ignored by other people, and therefore, the triumphant athlete would only receive a polite round of applause. Mono Deity wasted little time in ordering complete background checks on both competitors. Heaven being Heaven, it still required a modem hookup for Internet service, so in the meantime, Mono Deity—like the enraged conductor of an orchestra—rained vast waves suddenly upon numerous island beach resorts. Many thousands of bikini tops were washed out to sea, amidst cries that bounced like needle sticks in the ears of lunatics. At last the background results came in, but they revealed little advantage for either athlete. Each had engaged in a few indiscreet fornications, requested a few dubious injections, and suffered from wobbly credit ratings owing to frivolous decisions regarding certain debt instruments, but these infractions had transpired, largely, in the past, and Mono Deity noted that both competitors had prayed, of late, at a frequency endorsed by figureheads of their faith. Mono Deity had absorbed these plaintive prayers, of course, as well as all the expressions of human piety, however meek, and shed them, too, in the perspiring ways of the very shot-putters themselves. A cantankerous expression overtook Mono Deity’s features and the Supreme Being vanquished the Visiting Assistant Deity with a howl that frightened buzzards from every gut-cart in the world. The earth revolved a new day into place. With it, came the shot-putting contest. There were inferior competitors who could not put the shot very far, but these were the traditional ‘scrubs’, explained the Visiting Assistant Deity, who had sought to appease Mono Deity by catering their vantage with frankfurters in pretzel buns. “Indeed,” added the Visiting Assistant Deity, “it is great folly for the superior athletes to watch these meek appropriations of the sport,” and the two Deities chuckled heavily at this thought. Late night infomercials came into the mind of Mono Deity, not only the Shamwow and the Slap Chop, but religious ‘scrubs’, too, the meek appropriations of liturgical stewardship. Mono Deity noted what the Visiting Assistant Deity had illuminated, and vowed to consider a promotion, to Assistant Deity, so long as there were more deli products wrapped in pretzel buns. The first of the two superior shot-putters put the shot 22.80 meters, not a record, but a fine put, and then the second shot putter put the shot 22.80 meters, the same put as the first man had put, no difference. The two competitors then traded shot-puts, but after each put, the shot sat exactly the same distance beyond the stop-board, the first man’s heave and the second man’s heave alike. Each man stood on the field, bellying, in his prehistoric unitard. Each man invoked Mono Deity, but Mono Deity could not empower one or the other man, as each had worshipped dutifully, and each had employed ample (and fluctuating) levels of torque. As the final heave of the contest rolled to a halt, the Supreme Being’s thoughts turned to adjudication, to the many instances of malfeasance over the course of centuries, the hardened hearts of some officials or the indifferent decrees of others. “But my Lord!” said the Visiting Assistant Deity, who knew the final puts to be equidistant, “behold the ruckus on the field!” In fact, the two dominant shot-putters were taking turns heaving the shot at one another, while their delegations traded fisticuffs in a haze of chalking lime. Mono Deity touched his powerful fingertip to the forehead of the Visiting Assistant Deity, and the latter came to envision the eventual downfall—drug abuse, incarceration, sex change operation—of the winner, as well as the quiet agrarian future of the loser, including a 403b retirement account tilted toward guaranteed returns. Mono Deity also revealed the possibility of promotion for the Visiting Assistant Deity, before removing his fingertip from the Under Deity’s forehead. The two Beings enjoyed a lengthy chuckle—har, har, har—at the folly of human endeavor, while the contest’s officials drove home in sensible automobiles. “Years from now,” thought the Visiting Assistant Deity, “with me installed as Assistant Deity, a contest such as this one will be, in fairness, declared a draw,” but the Visiting Assistant Deity suspected that Mono Deity knew these thoughts, even as the Supervisor Deity had retired to the divine armchair. Indeed, in order to become a more informed Supreme Being, Mono Deity had begun weighing the afternoon’s reading: either Pontiff / Counter Pontiff or The Habits of Seven Highly Effective Nuns.