5

Jan


Sort of on Track (But not Really)

Been working on my novel again for the past few days, and I actually feel pretty good about it. I thought it was just going to be mind numbingly bad, but it’s only mind numbingly bad in parts. Like 60% awesome, 40% terrible… now if I can change those terrible sections to just mediocre, well, then I might have something.

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25

Nov


The Big God Damn

Milk Bottle



A Belzer’s milk bottle, of Belzer Dairy Farms Incorporated, appeared in the Los Alamos desert. 900 feet tall, nearly 300 feet wide. The best description? It materialized. However, since no one saw this, a shimmering prestidigitation cannot be accurate. Simply put, one night the bottle was not and one morning the bottle was.

According to official records, Air Force satellite photography spotted the object at 0700 hours. Before that, swarming dragonflies and several black-eyed lizards gave witness. The first human eyes on the bottle were Bill Kipp’s, a closeted technician repairing phone lines. He pulled his pickup over and stared at was supposed to be the vast nothingness of Los Alamos. He twitched his nose, once, twice, picked up his walkie. “There’s seems to be, what looks like, some biggoddamnbottle out here.”

The bottle was an exact replica of the Belzer’s from the 1920’s except bigger. The glass sparkled, beckoned, and Bill Kipp couldn’t tear away. There was no milk. Just the residue, a few gallons, which slowly swirled and curdled through the day. “Big milky love,” he mumbled. He watched until sunset and tanks arrived.

Orange level security, they said. General Berndt watched the milk bottle through binoculars and bit down on his cigar. He scanned the rabble—the lookyloos, TV vans, liberal media—and bit harder. “Belzer’s?” he said, “Isn’t that some Jew company.” Jew Hoax, he thought.

Anthony Tutton, current owner of what was Belzer Dairy Farms Incorporated, looked at the Pennsylvania Gazette glumly. Why Alamos, he thought. Tutton was neither Jewish nor a mastermind, and Belzer’s no longer produced milk but a type of dehydrated cheese dust used on certain potato chips. The bottle was perfect though, rounded and with the logo he remembered from childhood. They sandblasted it onto bottles back then. Tutton thought it was something from Hailwood Farms, another producer of fine cheese-like powders, meant to disgrace. Marvin Hailwood Jr., three states away, thought it was a photoshopped illusion.

Physicist Paul Whiteman, with the President on Air Force One, believed it a divine symbol. The Pope believed it was carved by Masons. The only holy man at the bottle was a televangelist, Gray Irby. He wanted to touch the bottle with his meaty palm and go to paradise. And get checks. And praise Jesus. “Praise Jesus!” The Irby girls sang. Oh, the checks.

The crowds grew to thousands and the National Guard kept them at bay with stony looks and buzz cuts. Everyone said something different. Last Judgment. Aliens. God. Gamma Rays. Bottlecular mutation. Jesus. Hollywood. Terrorists. Kipp licked his lips and pushed forward.

A reporter looked deeply into the camera with the soulful brown eyes she was known for and said, “The divine or the deception? We may never know. Reporting from what’s being called God’s milk bottle, Charlotte Hughes-Alveraz.” Except she didn’t think a thought.

“Hey, Ma,” Pa Kettle yelled from the TV to the kitchen, “God likes milk.”

“Well, of course, he does, Pa,” Ma said.

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15

Oct


Work Last Night

While I didn’t do any actual writing, I did manage to open up lots of files last night. Impressed?

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14

Oct


Back to Work

I really need to get back to work on the novel. I haven’t written since my dad died, and I think I’ve used that as a cop out. It is hard though because my book does deal with fathers and sons, and the loss of his father and a search for a replacement father figure… and it was written entirely before my dad passed away. So, going back to it has been miserable because I really don’t want to talk about it, let alone write about it. And what’s more, I’m terrified how people will react to it, like I’m trying to say something about my own dad, which I’m not at all, but I kind of am (if that makes any sort of sense) and that’s what’s killing me. It’s depressing to finish it, and it’s even more depressing to scrap it.

I only have about a hundred pages to go. The end should be in sight, but I’m just not seeing it yet. I have vague ideas, but nothing concrete.

The are a couple of other road blocks, too. First, Wolf Gnards is too successful! I’ve become far too popular in Bill Murray circles. So, I end up sitting down and cranking out a Wolf Gnards article because it’s easy with almost instant gratification. Because no one cares about my regular writing (except of course for close friends and loved ones, and as we all know, they’re opinions do not count). Which then puts a motivational hinge on getting published, discovered, or recognized in any meaningful way. Nonsense, of course, because then I have to get published to write, but I have to write to get published. I just have to do it for me… and if not for fame or fortune just to get this god damn thing off my back.

The other reason is because my novel is not a work of genius. It’s mostly fine with a few bright spots. Can I be ok with this? Can I be ok with not being heralded? I’m starting to think maybe. I started reading Mysteries of the Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon, and that book isn’t good at all. It’s most redeeming quality is that it’s not bad. And Chabon’s done all right for himself… and he got better. Maybe, no one will hold a mediocre novel against me. While, possessing the qualities of not bad does not make a novel good, I could live with that. I could live with “thoroughly mediocre” and “ambitiously average.” I think I could do that, too. I can dare be average.

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7

Oct


Barker Note

“You’ve got to have appeal as well as power in your voice. You must convince the swine that you have something for them.”

Attributed to FDR for a pig calling contest in the Schrodinger’s Cat.

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24

Aug


Black Warrior Review Rejection

Here’s my rejection from the Black Warrior Review:






















As you can see, there’s something missing. They forgot to put the rejection letter in. I don’t know if it’s a disappoint not to see the rejection slip or a relief. I’m going to go with relief.

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23

Aug


Pen Name Obession

I think I’m really obsessed with having a good pen name. I went from J. Douglas Musashi to Dr. Nard von Wolfenstein to Wolfram G. Nards III (Wolfie to my friends) to whatever’s next. But I’m not satisfied with any of them. J. Douglas Musashi was originally supposed to be J. Douglas Steranko, a tribute to legendary Nick Fury artist Jim Steranko. J. stood for Jersey (where am from) and Douglas was for Douglas Adams. J.D., or course, also being an illusion to J.D. Salinger. And naturally all of that came together to make one horrible nom de plume. At the last second I got cold feet, or maybe bound feet might be a better metaphor because I wanted to keep an Asian last name.

When it came down to it I wanted to keep my ethnicity, but shedding my ethnicity was actually the driving force behind wanting a pseudonym to being with. One of my many theories on why I have yet to be published by any major publication is because of my Asian sounding last night. I’m not saying editors are racist, just that they expect ancient Chinese secrets, and when I don’t deliver on those ancient Chinese secrets, they become a little let down. If you’ve read The New Yorker for instance, you’ll find it plastered with stories by foreign born writers or set in exotic locals. The main reason, I see for this, isn’t the quality of the stories, but an excuse to use italic fonts for foreign words. Italics are special. Of course, editors could also be ducking my work because it’s terrible, but I’m not quite ready to accept that (although, acceptance is vastly approaching).

My newest pen name is BAM (the BA stands Bad Attitude), but I don’t think this is going to stick. Douglas Adams, one of namesakes, had a theory in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency that is pretty interesting. The theory goes as follows, all great best sellers have one thing in common: their surname is twice as long as their first name or vice versa. It doesn’t matter what’s sandwiched between the cover, as long as it has a visually compelling name slapped on it, it will sell.

Check it out:

Stephen

King



J. K.

Rowling



Tom

Clancy



Stephenie

Meyer



John

Grisham

BAM might not go the distance. And I’m also a little too egotistical to try publishing my serious work under anything but my given name. If I happen to become famous (slim as this may be), I want it damn well to by the name on my license. I mean how else am I going to pick up girls in bars?

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17

Aug


Great Writers Trapped in Genre Fiction

Schrodinger's Cat

I’ve been reading Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and it’s just wonderful. Just a delightful brain twister. But more than that, it’s as well written a book as any piece of literature. It’s as witty as anything Vonnegut ever wrote. Yet Vonnegut is someone who transcended science fiction, and Robert Anton Wilson is mired in science fiction. He’s probably almost unheard of by anyone but hardcore sci-fi fans. It’s kind of interesting in that Schrödinger’s Cat is about infinite possibilities of multiple universes, and in some universe (unfortunately not this universe) Robert Anton Wilson is considered the voice of a generation.

Genre fiction is just considered the wasteland of literature. The problem is a lot of it is legitimately crappy. Most of these guys can’t write. They can’t put together two scentences let alone the many sentences required for a full length novel. If Isaac Asimov didn’t write about robots, he wouldn’t have published at all. But some writers get trapped in the perceived limitations of their genre.

Here are some who should have been larger than their genres:



Philip K. Dick
– Dick is without a doubt one of the biggest names in Science Fiction, but he should be known in any college literary class as well. He was a sci-fi philosopher whose work mirrored more a hard boiled Bertrand Russell than the rocket fueled space operas popular in his day. Unfortunately, Philip K. Dick was just a tad ahead of his time. The rest of his career may have been ruined by heavy drug use and possible schizophrenia.

Patricia Highsmith – Probably one of the best thriller writers of all time, but is more known for Matt Damon than anything else. She was smart, funny, and little twisted… the perfect tools for a great crime writer, and any great writer of anything really. However, she had a troubled personal life: a mean alcoholic, she was also labeled as an antisemitic, an Anti-American, and a lesbian. And like Philip K. Dick, Highsmith was also suspected of having several mental disorders. Her biggest problem though was probably being female in a male dominated genre.

Both Dick and Highsmith should be considered literary greats in the vein of Kafka and Nabokov, and perhaps in the universe next door they are.

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