Now the Airlines are EVIL! A PANDEMIC! FEAR!

We love a villain. Something to unite against. And the media will always feed us something, even if said villain is no villain.

First, Muslims. (Terror! I’ll ban Muslims.)

Recently, the police.

Now the airlines.

Up next, my prediction: TEACHERS.

In our society, one in which everyone is entitled to the best of everything all the time–my cell phone didn’t work for five minutes. I demand a refund–we’re all victims.

Had to wait in line at the DMV? And they were rude!?

Victim.

An airline wasn’t 100% nice to you? They treated you like you were on a bus? And you paid $100 to fly through the air like a bird? How awful. They should be sued.

Victim.

A teacher punished or spoke harshly to a student?

Victim.

What a weak society. We ask and ask. But what do we contribute? All we do is consume. Want. Desire. Demand. Complain.

“But I’m a hard-working American.”

Eh . . . I’d say a small percentage of America actually works hard. We all claim it on our Twittergram accounts. But we usually do that at work.

I’m calling it: Teachers are next.

Breaking news: Teacher takes away cell phone, violating student rights.

The daytime TV windbags will recall all the horror stories from their childhood school days–all the details, misremembered and magnified to sate our sugar- and sodium- and conflict-loving society.

We love to hate things we’ve agreed to hate.

My teacher bullied me.

Three or four months, the media will need to move on. It’ll be teachers.

At least our horse-blinded media will give our police a break for a bit.

DISTRACTION:

My novel is coming out soon in paperback: Check it out.

Drunk in the Warm Glow

 

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Now the Airlines are EVIL! A PANDEMIC! FEAR!

UP NEXT: Lakefly Writers Conference

Isolation and a lack of direction.

That’s how I feel when I haven’t interacted with fellow creators.

That’s not a good feeling.

lost-boy-adam-gerdes

A good feeling: Attending a conference. Mulling around with people who do what you do. Some of them are hugely successful. Some of still near the same plane as me (albeit still ABOVE me–people I look up to).

That’s why I love conferences. But conferences tend to cost money. A lot of money. Limbs. Severed hands and feet. Then the conference isn’t so great. Paying a ton and leaving with knowledge is great . . . but most knowledge is available online.

Instead, the best takeaway from a conference is HUMAN INTERACTION! (Yes, I am yelling and typing.)

But that money thing . . .

Go to Oshkosh’s Lakefly Writers conference. It’s like $60. (Pretty sure there’s food on Saturday, too. Pretty sure . . .)

Lakefly Registration

They have lawyers, comedians, series writers, freelance writers, novelists, musicians, voice-over artists, detectives (yes, detective), children’s book writers . . . and so on.

You get the idea.

And it’s a good deal. Check it out, especially if you’ve never been to one. (I’m especially talking to any high school or college students who are dabbling in writers, but aren’t totally sure.)

The keynote speaker happens to be a man I’ve read before I know he’d be coming to Oshkosh: Nickolas Baker. His novel Shotgun Lovesongs is a must-read for Wisconsinites, especially if you appreciate character-driven tales. (Gotta love Beth; she was my favorite character.)

I went to a conference in Indiana. Then Chicago. Then some other places. All of them–$200+, not including lodging, etc.

If you’ve never gone, try Lakefly. They’re accepting of all ranges of creative people. They welcome me each year–especially my first year. I was (and still am) a nobody. That’s totally okay. Acceptance. Ah.

And last year, they graciously gave me the opportunity to present. They took away that feeling of isolance and lack of direction. So much advice, so much optimism–a great way to spend a weekend. (Certainly better than drinking alone and plotting a novel in a dark, dank basement. Not that I do that . . .)

Great group of people. Excellent conference.

Best deal around here.

I’m excited.

I’m also excited for next Monday. My first novel, Drunk in the Warm Glow, is being published by Creators Publishing. I wrote it over three years ago. After getting the contract finished and whatnot, it was another year or so.

Finally, it’s here.

And soon, so will be Lakefly (May 12-13).

Hope to see you there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UP NEXT: Lakefly Writers Conference

Ode to an Object

Remember Ode to Joy? That song a piano teacher teaches right away?

Yeah, let’s talk about Odes.

A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist. It is an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally.

Basically, it’s expressing appreciation/love/praise for an object or person.

Here my example:

Ode to Betsy (the Buick)

I fell in love with Betsy that first sizzlin’ day by the rail tracks. Betsy glistened emerald (or dark booger) as the train’s rumble shook the pavement, rattling pebbles as if they were on a trampoline.

I slid inside and took Betsy for a spin. The milky-eyed salesman sat in the middle of the back seat, leaning forward. When I say milky, I mean glaucoma left partial eyesight in only one eye; the other was sealed whitish-blue. Like an iridescent marble.

As Betsy groaned into drive, Milky Eye’s mothball breath blasted into my air bubble. He pointed at the features: “Heated asscheeks. CD and cassette deck. Enough room in the trunk for five or six bodies, heh-heh-heh.” He nudged my shoulder. No doubt, this guy has murdered people. I did my best to ignore that irrefutable notion. I cranked the radio; Alice in Chains’s “I Stay Away” played.

But I did not stay away from Betsy.

Half an hour later, sitting in the cigarette-cloud office, I was signing papers and nodding like I knew anything about what I was signing. Especially the no returns part.

Oops.

Four thousand in cash. Bam.

Milky Eye smiled, holding his paperwork, a Salem hanging out the side of the his mouth. He flashed his gold tooth and tossed me the keys. Of course, with only one eye functioning, his depth perception was off. The key landed like three feet in front of me. Pathetic—that’s a good word for the toss.

“I got it,” I said, snatching the keys from the shag carpet. Has this been washed since . . . ever?

A month later, that car shop was closed. No idea why. No idea where Milky Eye and his gold tooth went. Maybe he was a low-budget traveling wizard?

It didn’t matter. Betsy the Buick was mine.

Ah, but I missed so much during that test drive. I missed all the signs, all that was flawed with Betsy. But it’s okay. Betsy just needed some love. She needed me. I needed her. (Mainly for getting places.) Anyone else would’ve dumped her at some junkyard. Not me.

I stuck with ol’ Betsy, my junky gal.

Bit-by-bit, Betsy fell apart.

Day one, I notice the gas gauge spun. Like a time machine. Solution: Just remember how much gas in the tank and how many miles per gallon I’m getting. And never forget or I will get stranded and a horror movie will unravel.

Betsy, so unknowable.

Day twenty, the driver-side wiper flings off during a rainstorm. Zipping down I-94, I’m leaning over my friend’s lap, trying to see out her side of the window. Then that wiper flings off. Turns out, Betsy’s wiper motor was roided-up; it was set four-times the normal speed.

Betsy, so strong.

Day forty through sixty-five:  Door-by-door, latches snap off or refuse to work until I only have one working entry point: the passenger side door. When I carpooled, I crawled in first, my . . . caboose in the air like a child crawling through a playground tunnel. Wiggle, wiggle. All right, you can get it now.

Betsy, playing hard-to-get-inside.

But it was okay. All was good. Betsy ran. She got me all across the country; never once did her CD player fail. In fact, I can only remember one time it skipped:

Day . . . five-hundred-something: I’m twenty. (AND IT’S PRESENT TENSE NOW!) It’s snowing. The radio’s warning Wisconsinites to stop driving. For example: “Stop driving,” said the radio.”

I keep driving. Snow peppers my windshield like the sky is a shakin’ salt shaker. I’m driving twenty MPH behind this white car. Long and ugly, like a giant bobsled. The Chevy is swerving left and right.

Without a signal, it whips into a left turn, cutting off oncoming traffic. The Chevy loses control. It drifts sideways down Main Street, blocking the entire road. I slam the breaks, but Betsy’s wheels don’t stop. They’re cue-ball bald.

The wheels don’t stop. Not Betsy.

Betsy, so unpredictable.

I crank the wheel to the right, avoiding the Chevy. The front of Betsy kisses a snowbank. A violent kiss.

Saaa-mooch.

The airbags don’t deploy, so the rearview mirror cushions my face. Blood’s dripping from my forehead like a faucet leak. Drip, drip, drip onto the leather–err, pleather–interior. The hood is scrunched like an accordion, and I almost laugh.

My brain dented and concussed.

Then I remember my license is suspended.

Whoops.

I get out, my vision blurry, my words slurred. “Whaddya do that fir?” No doubt, my brain’s sloshing around like a sponge in a water bucket.

Two girls get out of the car. Both are dressed in Hot Topic gear. A glittery girl wears an Invader Zim t-shirt. She says, “Don’t call the cops, please.”

“Why?”

The other girl–wispy and frail–says, “I’m fourteen. I . . . borrowed this from my boyfriend.”

Wonderful.

I call a friend. His Ford F-15-Million pulls me out of the snow bank. I drive to Wal-Mart’s parking lot where I take a nap to end the headache.

~ ~ ~

Ah, Betsy. I could go on. But I won’t. I don’t need to elaborate on the fun times she and I have had all across America. We both remember them.

It’s about to end soon, though. Nine years now we’ve been together. But her wiper motor is dead. The doctor says it’ll cost $400 to fix. But she’s only worth $250 (according to that judgemental prude Kelley Blue Book). Only one door opens now–the white-handled driver door. My door. Just for me.

I could sell her to a junk yard. But no. Not my Betsy.

Instead, I’m gonna let her rot away in a front yard. I’ll let grass and weeds grow through her. I’ll let her collapsed roof collect rain–patter, patter, pattering. Squirrels and raccoons can hole up in the trunk; after all, it can fit five or six bodies in it, heh-heh-heh.

Oh, Betsy, now I just need to buy a yard in which you can rust away.

Actually, on a second thought . . . that three hundred bucks sounds pretty nice.

Now, write your own Ode to an Object. Post it in the comments.

Ode to an Object

Writing Prompt: Post Your Best “I Am” Poetry Lines

Hey, everyone (or no one, depending on who sees this),

I haven’t written on here because I forgot how to type. That or I forgot about my website.

News: I’m about five thousand words from finishing my newest novel, Terminal Clarity. 

Yay!

So, here’s the deal for today’s prompt. Write a bunch of poetic-ish lines that start with “I am.” These should be metaphorical, such as:

  • I am the sticky popsicle stick stubbornly stuck to the bottom of the bedside tin garbage can.
  • I am the left sneaker, laced to my partner, the right sneaker, doomed to an eternity dangling from Main Street’s phone line.
  • I am the skydiving white bird poo, thrilled for the impending splatter on the most expensive open convertible in the entire executive parking lot.

You get the idea. They are all metaphors, and I’m taking the perspective of them. Brilliant, huh? No? Yeah, you’re right. Not so brilliant. But it’s a good exercise.

In the comments section, post your best “I AM” line. If you have a few good ones, post ’em all. The more the merrier, fellow humans.

Random quote for you: “The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.” —Demetri Martin

Have a lovely Tuesday.

clsjz

Writing Prompt: Post Your Best “I Am” Poetry Lines

A Review: “Honestly Funny”

Hello, fellow internet people,

I just learned how to reblog, and Mr Thomas Cannon (author of The Tao of Apathy) wrote a review of Mind the Gap. Check it out (and his blog. ) Thanks to Thomas for spending the time and energy to read and review. Truly I appreciate it. I’m much obliged. (Not sure why I sounded upper-class British there.)

Also, remember: “Dogs are always in the push up position.” –Mitch Hedberg

thomascannonblog

Recently I read DW Anderson’s book Mind The Gap.  Despite being very jealous that someone so young writes with so much polish, I enjoyed it a lot.  He strikes the right tone and pacing in every Chapter.

Here’s my review    Mind The Gap on Amason

Mind the Gap is honestly funny. In other  words, Anderson shows us stories with humor that comes from his candor. For the sake  of our amusement he tells us his true stories along with short stories that seem to be based on real life. Either way, the stories he writes are engaging and polished.

Anderson  gives us an abundant amount of funny,  but he dalso adds to it.  Reveals angst behind the zany stunts he has  pulled.  In his way he makes sure  his stories have substance-    what we need.

He gets a lot of americana in his stories with his choice of…

View original post 103 more words

A Review: “Honestly Funny”

Book Coming Out + Lion King + Awesome Little Things

Hey, you,

First, A & U Magazine published a story I wrote. Click here to read it. The magazine print version is also available where people sell magazines and shiny paper-things.

Second, I wrote a book called Mind the Gap. It’ll be released 6/6/2016 (that’s next Monday ). It’ll be available electronically & in print. Click here to check out the page.

Another book I wrote, a novel called Drunk in the Warm Glow, is forthcoming this fall from Creators Publishing. It has words in it. Thousands.

Third, Lion King on Broadway. Amazing. See it. Pay whatever they ask. Sell your pets and friend(s) and children. Or don’t. Whatever. It’s your life.

Fourth, details. A lot of shitty shit happens like . . . always. Right now, bad things are happening. But good things happen, too. It’s true–I looked it up on the internet. The politicians, news, online people–they tend to eat up the bad. However, good stuff does happens. Like when a family of ducks crosses highway 45, and both sides of traffic stop, as if a school bus were picking up a child. These are awesome little things.

Think of an awesome little things (as many as you want), and post it below.

Here are mine:

  1. Ladyfriend and I rode bikes to a grocery store to buy dead plants (aka veggies). On the way, the smell of freshly-cut grass was everywhere. It even covered the smell of eyeless, rotting sheephead near the water.
  2. Put on a new white t-shirt. Amazing. No tags, either. And! it smells like happy, even though it probably wasn’t made in a happy situation.
  3. On my bike, I was being awesome (naturally) and I bunny-hopped a curb, and then tried cutting a corner, and I leaned too far. My pedal scraped against the cement. A chunk flew off, but I corrected myself and pedaled on. (I probably did a backflip in there, too.) Didn’t fall or anything. In fact, I probably looked badass. Hopefully someone got that on their camcorder or cell phone or whatever people use. My point: I screwed up and almost threw my face at the cement. Instead: pure awesomeness. (I want to type awesimity, but it doesn’t look right, and it isn’t a word.)
  4. My house was hot. My friend texted me: “Wanna swim?” I nodded and drove to his house on the lake. The lake water was cool and filled with my friends and boats and poles stuck in the water with bottles atop them. Dead fish were washed up on the shore, but the smell of freshly-cut grass covered that smell and the stank of Lake Winneseptic.
  5. OH! I’ll be out of the country here and there this summer. Found out my new carrier–Ting–has a simple, flat-rate system for overseas calls, data, & messaging. In otherwords, they simplified my life by being open and straightforward. Awesome. Small. And a thing.

What are a few of yours?

Book Coming Out + Lion King + Awesome Little Things

Louie, Ray, Judd, Aziz, Todd, and Judah

While in New York, I wanted to do one thing: See all the comedy.

I wanted to dive into sewers and gnaw on any semblance of tee-hees and haw-haws. I brought a book of comedy with me. I watched YouTube clips of stand-up comedians on the ferry between Manhattan and Staten. I would have made sweet, sweet love to great joke (if it consented).

That’s why I drove from Wisconsin to New York.

Stand-up comedy in New York–where people need it, as my Socrates of Comedy, Doug Stanhope, once said.

Everynight, my ladyfriend and I paid  a few bucks to sit inches away from my idols at the Comedy Cellar. We went everynight during the week. And during the week, this is a few of the weekday highlights:

Ray Romano (unannounced); Aziz Ansari (“I’m working on some new material, like this new Skittles bit.”); Judd Apatow (guy behind Freaks and Geeks, 40 Yr-Old Virgin, etc.); Todd Barry (whom I’ve seen multiple times, including his ballsy tour of pure crowd work, which was turned into a Netflix special and sold on Louis CK’s website.); Judah Friedlander (of 30 Rock fame); and others, who are still legends, but my fingers are sleepy.

ToddBarry and me

Aziz wore loafers and spoke my mind about relationships and Skittles. Judd included me in his banter/jokes about 3-ways. Ray Romano had a beard. Judah F. did . . . his hilarious thing, which is an odd mix of crowd work, jokes, and improv. (From my understanding, he is there almost everynight, performing comedy. If not there, Gotham.)

All of these TV images, suddenly, they materialized a foot away from me. At Comedy Cellar, if you’re front row, you are right there. Spit row. Two chairs a foot or two from the comedian.

For years, I’ve spent thousands on seeing every comedian I could. I have so many pictures with comedians I can’t keep track. Jeselnik to Doug Benson to Timmel to–you name her/him.

Then within a few nights, I was rubbing elbows with the Kings and Queens.

And they didn’t give a shit.

I’d followed these comedians careers from start to current. I subscribed to email lists, social media updates–anything and everything. And there I was, sitting at the bar upstairs after the shows. I ordered double vodka with lemons. At the table behind me sat Ray R., Todd Barry, Louie CK, and Judah F. HBO, Netflix–their stars. They just chatted about the mundane. I tried my best to be normal, like everyone else in the bar. The bartender said these guys and gals were here so often than no one paid them any mind.

“But have you seen Shameless? Have you read Judah’s book? Watched 30 Rock? Seen ANY of Aziz’s work? Parks and Rec? Any standup?”

The bartender shrugged. “It’s New York.”

I thought. Louie lived a few blocks away, according to the bartender. These guys did this all the time. The regulars.

Bartender said, “So we just leave them be.”

I nodded.

However, I wanted to meet Louie. Like a true tourist. Like a true idiot fan, I wanted to create a false reality via photography on a shitty phone camera. I wanted to come home and tell my friends.

But why?

I couldn’t work up the courage. My girlfriend saw Louie leaving. She noted it. I said, “Can you ask him for a picture with me?”

I couldn’t work up the courage to ask a stranger for a photo.

She gently tapped him on the shoulder. His eyes flitted to his SUV, which idled outside.

“My boyfriend is a huge fan. Would you mind?”

The comedian–oddly without his facial hair–looked to me. Then to my girlfriend. I could read his mind. What a weird dude. What a coward. Is this a murderer? Is this a–

Like his “character” on his eponymous TV show, he politely declined. “No. I’d rather not.” And he turned and walked off, shaking hands, nodding, and bro-hugging bouncers and fellow comedians who hung outside the Comedy Cellar’s doors.

I felt rejected. It was nothing personal. No doubt, he got the question incessantly. On a walk with his daughters–Will you take a pic for my Twittergrammingabook?

I understood it. And I felt the false relationship we had. It is and was one-sided. His jokes might resound with me, but he is not like me. He does not want to be. He wants to stay rich. He wants to raise his two daughters well. He wants to live normally, but instead of teaching or working at a factory, he delved successfully into a career that is personal and self-indulgent. That is a risk. A huge one. At some point, his daughters will see his early work, and the vulgar stories he told about them. And I’m sure they’ll take it in stride. After all, how can he hate on a dad who makes millions and is a solid father?

But here’s what the relationship was and is :

Business masked behind the extremely personal material.

“Listen to me. Thank you for money.”

But after a time, after the comedian becomes huge, the thank you is meaningless. A formality. Going to church on Christmas and Easter.

Must be, especially for guys like Louie. For guys like Jeselinik, whom I saw several times in Madison, WI before he had his TV show or his first comedy album. I have two pictures with Anthony Jeselnik. The third show I went to was massive. People screamed out his punchlines before he did. And if you know his comedy, timing and attitude is everything.

His success killed his own show. His fans ruined his jokes.

104_0108

When I had my girlfriend ask Louie for a picture, was I contributing?

Yes

I put him and other comedians on pedestal on which they don’t belong. I’ve heard negative things about him from other comedians. I’ve heard about this and that about this comedian and that comedian. And part of it is probably true. At some point, you are no longer the struggling comedian. You’re the celeb. You’re the actor. You’re not like your fans anymore. Louie even says in one of his specials, “I’m not like you.”

And he isn’t. No. He and they aren’t. But that’s okay. It takes a lot of self indulgence and promo to get there. They earn it. But really, why do I care about a guy who looks like he works at UPS or a cheese factory?

I am deluded by media.

I allow myself to fall in love with anything I can relate to. It comes in waves. One week, I love a novelist. Then, a musician. Then, a comedian. But these artists, they are just UPS workers whose work is amplified because they sense they are different; because they sense they have a unique view. It partly is a vainity thing, without a doubt, and I think that is obvious with the influx of neurotic comedians and writers (Jonathan Ames, Marc Maron, Larry David, Richard Lewis, etc.). They are obsessed with and love themselves. And when a fan connects, it is a one-way relationship. Then the money pours in (maybe and eventually), and bam! You got a fella or gal creating a TV show around themselves.

Me.

Me. Me. Me.

But practicality means turning down the fans that pay your rent. And I get it.

But here’s my thought:

I’m going to break free.

Screw Stanhope (although I ordered and will read his newest book the moment it was announced, before it had a title). Screw Louie. Screw them all. They connect with me. But why am I sending my love? That is their job; connect with dolts who live non-traveling, non-million $ lifestyles. So, why am I doling out $80 to see jokes that’ll be on Netflix/HBO in a few months?

One-sided love.

Like a creepy lover.

Every move you make.

I’ll be watching you.

Nah. I’m done with that.

I love these jokes. These falsified personalities. But I’m done trailing them online; I’m unsubscribing and detaching from them. I’m done cowering in their sweaty shadows.

I’ll pay to see your show.

But that’s it.

I will thank you internally for what you’ve contributed to my life. But you’re just a fraction of it. Just like I (and all your faceless fans) are slivers of a fraction of your income. Without us, you’re nothing. And for that, I’m certain you comedians are thankful. You must be. But you’re people. We’re people. Why in the world am I having my girlfriend ask a middle-aged, overweight comedian for a picture? It is not like the red-head and I made a connection; at best, if I had gotten the pic, he would be irritated. Is that what I want?

Nah.

Like Zeus and other fictional creatures, I’ll appreciate my idols from a distance. If they come around, I’ll probably cough up the cash to see them. My love for comedy is too huge. But beyond that? Get out of here. Big-Name Comedians, you’d say the same.

HOWEVER:

I’m still collecting those comedian photos. They are still my idols.

Bill Burr–who will never read this–one day I shall see you live. I’ve watched your most recent Netflix special several times, and I have laughed-out-loud again and again. And for that, what can I do but thank you. You do what you’re great at. And when I go to the gun range (rarely), I can’t help but think about picking a .22 rather than a revolver.

Note: I just forked over $200 for Louie tickets for a few of my friends and myself. I really want them to experience live comedy.$200 won’t kill me, and it won’t make a difference to Louie. He probably lights cigars with that elusive $200 bill with Aaron Burr’s photo on it.

Makes me wonder. Ever have a run-in with a celeb? Comedy or otherwise?

 

Louie, Ray, Judd, Aziz, Todd, and Judah