Sunday, August 15, 2010

Terminal Blog Entry

I've maintained this blog since sometime in 2006. My life has changed dramatically in that time, and I've decided to take my online presence in a different direction. If you are still interested in following my thoughts/words, for some reason, please redirect yourself to Thanks so much
»»  read more

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Didn't I tell you not to be satisfied with the veil of this world?"

[quote: Rumi ; vidoe: Losing Religion to the Amazonian Piraha Tribe]

Visited Austin. Good times, good people. I'll fit right in there and quickly get monastic. Peter out and then rejuvenate myself. Blame the humdrum for fits and starts. Go slightly insane and jabber with neighbors. But here we go, time to warm-up the crane-neck and get real lonely. I move down in August, school starts toward the end of the month. I'll be on buses, airplanes, floors, and couches for most of the time between now and then.

It's hard to write now. Transition time. All those relationships that came together of their own accord start pulling apart--ever so slightly. In four years, you start to talk like people and feel homely-comfort in food-once-unusual. You've got short-cuts and old girlfriends and a memory of the last time you stood in thousands of spots. I want that Family Circus dotted-line to show up holographic in aerial photos.

There have been a dearth of updates on the book. It is in the hands of the printer now, and thus hopefully coming soon. More details to follow.
»»  read more

Monday, March 29, 2010

"The important thing is not to be cured, but to live with one's ailments."

(quote: Abbe Galiani, video: 'Robert McKee' from Adaptation)

Going to not New Orleans now, but the University of Texas where I've been offered a Michener Fellowship . This was unquestionably my favorite program upon application, but its reputation for extreme selectivity kept me from hoping too hard. There are many virtues to the academic program itself, including an opportunity to study screenwriting, but from pragmatism I'm stoked about the stipend. I will not have to work for three years. It's all a kid could ask for, and I can't wait to get working intensively. Full days of writing, like those I could barely wring out of weekends, laid end-to-end.


I'm waiting for a backlash. And I'm starting to think that Irony has been our generation's sole defense against taking all this technology too seriously. All facebooked out and craving anonymity, a few kids that are already born will have enough. And it won't just be crust-punks and Luddites, but broad swaths of people who just don't care to plug in all their gadgets.


Don't watch the news. You're not surrounded by crazy people. There are some. Mostly on the television itself. And you're still more likely to die from a flamed-out furnace or a distracted teenager wielding vehicular homicide than shot in the brain by some wild-eyed sniper or blown to bits by post-modern kamikazes. Just laugh for a minute at the hypocrisy and the misunderstanding, the clarity of things when you're disengaged. And then giggle at the thought of utopia. . .People do not want to be free.
»»  read more

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"I wanted the whole world or nothing"

(quote: Bukowski; video: 'lil Wayne-La, La, La)

I've been accepted to attend the MFA program at the University of New Orleans in the Fall. This after several rejections and a wait-list at the University of Texas. There's been a whole set of penciled-in plans waiting for this, coiled up waiting to be sprung. . .so now it's 2.5 more months of work, the new tradition of Sasquatch, a month-long escapade through Turkey, Albania, Croatia, perhaps Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain. I've been out of school a year now, and I can scarcely summarize those months between. Only a montage of beer cans and books and rubbing my forehead in consternation, the glow of the screen, the smell of ink on airplanes, napping off the grindstone week, a few of those times when you're at the bar or on some friendly couch and the light and the collective BAC are perfect and you can genuinely tilt your head back and cackle.

There's bound to be good times, and those less good. And in the murk it's easy to become distrustful and vacant-eyed and an inch smaller than your skin. Now's the up-time though, and if you don't let yourself feel the ecstasy than you were a fool to feel its opposite.

What I was thinking about whilst paying to park:

When we were fresh out of the forests, planting the first maize and trading the first beads, all this capitalism made sense. It was an imperfect but simple means of distributing the value to be had by working the natural world. This was before the printing press, before programmatic government, hedge funds, ________-industrial complexes. And then we slipped out of that world, gradually inching into an inorganic technological sphere. The industrialized world is one big city now, one could travel around the globe on commercial flights and never leave the airport--it would be like one horrifying trip to the mall, with bizarre ethnic districts and periodic, uncomfortable naps. The natural world we once inhabited has become a space administered and owned by corporations and government. In the age of post-survivalism, everything is owned. And because everything is property (where government control of land, for example, can stand-in for commercial ownership), the time-tested value of capitalism becomes perverted. Where once food, durable goods, and raw materials were the only items up for exchange--now everything is. Everything has an abstract and quantifiable value that can be traded for other things. Ideas have become commodified, sex, health and disease, kindness (in the service industry, each smile you give has an estimable dollar value). Time itself has been commodified (I certainly didn't decide to work from 8-5). . . .No solutions or grand philosophical statement. . .I just find it interesting.
»»  read more

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward"

(quote: Hemingway; video: David Lynch on Ideas)

Last week, I finished the content of Under Fluorescent Light and I've basically spent the days since drinking Glenfiddich and playing SimCity. The book is a collection of short stories. I struggle to describe them beyond that, other than to say that I've tried to make the reader uncomfortable, to make he or she laugh ambivalently, to lose the distinction between the hard-edges of life and the blurry logic of dreams. The work has been referred to as science fiction by several people, but if it is then it is a strain of the genre that has not existed until now. Much thanks to my friends Dale Eisinger (for writing an introduction, typesetting the work, and consoling my nerves on several drunken nights), TWag (for the innumerable hours he's spent pointing out the weaknesses in earlier drafts), and Tyler Bowling (for lending his eyes and hands to the cover design). There is a publishing lag of at least six weeks before hard-copies will be available.

All the grooves are well-worn now, and I can't seem to extract even the most palsied happiness from the mundanity leaking in under the door. No hobbies, no romance, no mendacious comforts. All the things I was supposed to do appear to me now as symptoms for some kind of communicable brain-disease that can only be vaccinated by good books, mood-altering chemicals, hypnagogia, and a discipline for the abstract. A philosophy without consequence is no philosophy at all.

Boise's got hooks in me now. If an offer comes down from academia, I'm in the wind . . .but now I'll miss a whole gang of people that tolerate my habits and do not laugh when I dance and break my heart with their earnest eyes. All part of the plan, supposedly, but there is no plan and I can't predict the state of things six months from now. I can barely see past winter.
»»  read more

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"It means what it says"

(quote: Samuel Beckett , Video: Trailer for Vice's Travel Guide to Liberia)

Traveling more for work these days. Long pre-dawn drives. And it's almost worth it to see the sun come up over flat southern Idaho while you race toward it at 92 mph and ambient electronica is beamed into your gleaming rental car from space. And it's almost worth it to stand out in the ice and listen to semis go farting by and fumble with numb fingers for tools or buttons on the keyboard. And it's almost worth it to drive around weird old railroad towns bumping Jay Electronica and looking for a place to smoke. And it's almost worth it to be the strange man alone in a booth that you would have pondered endlessly as a child. Worth it to overhear a conversation at the bar and note that the overweight middle-aged women with real estate agent poise and her broken-English boyfriend are talking about the same things that you've uttered in recent weeks: "Oaxaca is a fun word to say","It seems like everyone has read Three Cups of Tea but me",and "after the winter solstice, it only gets better." Worth it when you hear a woman say she's from Michigan and it takes a few moments before you realize that matters--not that I forget.
Spending tonight in Pocatello, Idaho where the prettiest girl in town walks into bars with the only guy that tried. And the railroad could have never imagined what the freeway would do for business. And men who own tire stores are famous. And others with weeding rings foist themselves upon hotel-bar-comedy nights and try to find the humor in losing their job. Rolling in at dusk you can watch the sun set orange on the rock factory's plume.

The book is really close. Behind schedule, but for mostly good reasons. April? Somewheres around then after the 'other-than-actual-writing' dust settles.
»»  read more

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"But maybe the scorpion, not wanting to be saved, had stung itself to death

(quote: Malcolm Lowry Under the Volcano , video: Aesop Rock and magOwl Bazooka Beard)

It's a chicken and egg scenario. Do I do these things because I am a writer, or do I write because I do these things? Despite the lack of updates on this blog, 2009 was my most productive and critical period of writing thus far. I moved to Idaho with the express intent that I would learn how to write, only this summer has that decision begun to bear fruit. But the chicken and egg: I watch people. I pay a lot of attention to the people passing me by. I study them when I'm sitting in bars and restaurants, waiting in line, grocery shopping, pumping gas, filing onto airplanes, pedaling by on the Green Belt. There was a time when I liked to craft intricate back-stories about these people that I paid attention to. And then eventually, now, I try to summarize them the best I can and presume one hidden thing about them. If that man is divorced, how does it affect the way he glances at his watch. If her baby's father left her, what does it feel like to check the stroller in as luggage. If he went to prison, how does it feel to drink that beer, or pay for it, or talk to the pretty girl next to him. And the snippets of conversation you hear are the best. "Don't touch my records or my cowboy boots" , "forty hours no sleep, but that's how SEALs train so whatever. You know this new guy doesn't know jackshit about the siding business" , or in a silent room: 'Did you say something about smoking a cigarette?' But do I do this because I write, or do I write because I do this?

I'm basically done applying to graduate school. An arduous, exacting task. Any assumption about my chances engenders some notion of objectivity to the process. All I know is that I came within a hairsbreadth last year (four waitlists, one Faustian offer), and my work this year is better in virtually all respects. Previously, I submitted a clunky story about a cult surrounding conjoined twins with blue skin, and a bleak piece about a girl mercy-killing her junky boyfriend. I love these stories, but when you break it down like that it's hard to see them getting noticed at all. The stories this time around are clearer, the language more potent, the ideas imaginative and well-handled. They are not perfect or great, but they're an order of magnitude beyond what I submitted in January of 2009. Twelve applications out there right now, learn-ed eyes about to read this shit and give a thumbs up or down. It's like a protracted slow-motion version of those almost forgotten days of football. Mentally steeling yourself to plunge your vulnerability into hostile territory. Succeeding on the sharpness of your instincts, your ability to adapt, and a desire that births an obnoxious willingness.


Sometimes you can't trust good days because they undermine the promises you made early Monday morning when you were caffeine-less and misanthropic and things didn't go according to plan. At least on those stressed afternoons there's a certain pure negativity that you can almost hold in your hands. In those moments you know so clearly what you ought to do and start thinking about how much money you have in the bank and what the going rate is on eBay for all of life's trappings. Some poor soul must want these things I have.
»»  read more

Sunday, November 08, 2009

"The time for your labor has been granted"

(quote: Jorge Luis Borges, Video: Mike Tyson - Beyond the Glory [I suggest watching the full hour])

I've developed a fascination with Iron Mike Tyson. I recall that, as a child, I never saw a complete fight but rather the occasional highlight reel of his fist dissociating the skullstuff of various other men that seemed nearly as big and intimidating as him. He was something of a mythological figure, a punch so powerful that it could be used as a unit of measurement. And of course I was always peripherally aware of his craziness. Watching his interviews and documentaries about him, though, a more complex picture emerges and I can't help but think of him as anecdote for how alienating and strange our world has become. Mike Tyson was, in fact, a brutal and violent individual. Yet that's what we wanted from him. Like all of our celebrities who cross a certain threshold of recognition, we enjoyed watching him fall. But consider what Mike Tyson might have been had he been alive a thousand years ago. While a failure at being a complete human being, Tyson marked an apex of human ability. In the physical realm, the man is/was simply unfuckwithable. His ability to fight was one aspect of this, but the greatest contributor was how his mind works. In physical conflict he brought all of his emotion to bear. And in the lead-up to these bouts he worked as hard as any person at any pursuit. He could have been a king, or at least a celebrated warrior. He is a man perfectly designed for battle. And say what you will about violence, it has been a constant throughout human history. Those that are capable of it in its highest form have always had an upperhand, and Tyson was capable of humiliating even individuals of this echelon. But there were no rewards for him, because this isn't 500 BC. And in the modern era, even a man that could hold his ground against a legion of enemies can be taken down by collective greed. Mike Tyson became the notorious felon he did because his tremendous abilities (and the mindset that MUST accompany it) are ill-adapted to this crazy world we've constructed. So we gave him way too much money when he was a kid, and those interested in his marketability surrounded him with women and drugs and the most exotic of luxuries. And those he put his trust in ultimately bent his skill for their own sinister ends. Mike Tyson is a monster that we created, in many ways. A tragic, absurd hero who, despite his ferocity, could not overcome himself and never recognized the wolves at the door.


It has been six months since I've been out of school. In that time I've spent nearly 600 hours writing, editing, reading for craft, outlining, brainstorming, staying up until the wee hours to perfect every word. And there are times when I'm exhausted, worn out on whatever the week's project is, frustrated, lonely. . . but the fact remains that I've improved by an order of magnitude. From a fumbling idiot to a stony-eyed amateur. So much further to go.


When you were a child, what did you expect? How did you think it would feel to be 20-something? To wait for 30? Did you always presume the grown-ups knew some secret you didn't? Or did you, at some point, realize that everyone was as confused and inexperienced as you? Did you assume that you would fall in love easily and for the long-run? Did you suppose that there would be lonely days? Did you recognize how much bullshit you'd have to slog through to enjoy even a few minutes of your day? How did you measure success and at what point did it become important? Where did all of these habits come from? What was the most exciting prospect for the future that you eventually had to cast aside?
»»  read more