Monthly Archives: July 2009

Zoltar Rocks my Fortune Told 4 Real.

I was wondering if I would write a decent book, so went to have my future told.


They had Zoltar at Hot Springs. Yes, you recognize him from the movie, Big. You can buy your own Zoltar machine and customize it how you like, changing its face, hands, eyes, even the speaker type and cabinet and type of bill acceptor.

An economy model will costs you $5,500. If you go premium Zoltar, with birch veneer cabinet and oak trim, you will drop $8500.

For one dollar, Zoltar told my fortune. First, he addressed me in a type of condescending wilderness of laughs. I got the immediate feeling he despised me and thought me a fool for paying him money. He cackled four times more, then rolled my “lucky numbers” off his pointed tongue.

24: This is not a lucky number. In fact, it is the number of the most depressing day of the year. Fuck.

39: This is not a lucky number. Are you joking? “39” is a song by the rock/glam group, Queen, off the spectacularly dramatic album A Night at the Opera (taken from the Marx Brothers film of the same name). The song “39” tells the  Sci Fi short story of a group of volunteers leaving a dying earth to find a sustainable place to exist for the human species. They do find a better world, but return from their voyage one hundred years later (yet only one year has passed in their lives, due to time dilation). All their loved ones are dead! They collapse in grief and agony. You call that a fucking lucky number, Zoltar? (clairvoyant creep)

21: This is not a lucky number. This is the legal age for drinking alcohol. One drink leads to another. I said to another. Next thing you know you wake up in a picked Nebraska corn field with llama on your breath and your pants gone fishing.

12: November 12, 1912, the explorer Robert Scott and his men are finally found in Antarctica. They are frozen and dead.

31: What? “31 Days” is a book about how Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney rose to power. Thanks, Zoltar, oracle of shit.

04: I guess four is kind of lucky. Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Etc.

Now onto my written fortune. I got the feeling an out-of-work MFA graduate was lurking.

I see a great deal of happiness in store for you. (OK, pretty cliche start. I took this to mean I should walk next door to the Nuevo Latino restaurant and order nachos.)

Waitress with a voice like espresso: “No nachos here.”

Me, in aftershock and disgust: “WHAT?! Well, then bring me the closest thing you have to nachos, and beer bottles growing like mushrooms on the dried manure disc of this table.”


Wow. This actually tasted great and so I calmed down like a TV show. In Hot Springs, do eat here.

Zoltar continued (my comments in parentheses): Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. (I question this but will remain focused) Happiness never decreases by being shared. (Right) So, if an object you ardently pursue brings little happiness when gained (does dude know me?) remember most of our pleasures come from unexpected sources. Share the good news when it arrives. (HUH?)

Has anyone reading this ever graded a freshman composition essay? WTF? Zoltan is clearly drunk on a drink called Faulty Logic Run-on Crazy with a lemon twist. My head spun like a black helicopter after this one, so I went to my hotel and unpacked the lime green cooler of nacho fixings. I routinely bring nacho fixings along when I visit foreign countries (if you have been to Arkansas, you know it technically is), and this time was a bonus: I had just visited my gardener dad. My lime green cooler held:

* one package veggie crumbles.

* one big-ass organic tomato.

* one yellowy wisp organic onion.

* one Mason jar of bhut jolokia. (WARNING! If you are an amateur, do NOT try this salsa. IT IS THE HOTTEST IN THE WORLD, and this is not hyperbole. I couldn’t handle this until a full 5 years into my adoration of agony. However, if you are a heat aficionado, you can buy it here.)

I heated the tomatoes and onions and tofu in microwave. I mixed in jolokia. I poured it over Garden of Eatin’ baked tortilla chips. My tongue did the dance of hard chuckle cocaine while watching an American win the French Open. Something. I suppose this is what Zoltar meant.

nacho home

Zoltar goes on, and my future now takes a bit of a dark turn:

For happiness is like a sunbeam which the least shadow shall intercept, while suffering is often as the rain in spring.

Wow. This really made me want to know who writes these fortunes. I kept seeing this young guy with an old face sitting in a motel outside those jai alai courts in Miami, with a greasy pint bottle of peppermint schnapps on the table alongside a pocketknife and a book of matches with a woman’s named scrawled on the back cover. The ink is bleeding and the woman’s name is MISTY. The man’s head throbs and he has a six-inch gash on his shin. It is an angry gash, hot and pulsing. He tries to ignore the pain as he leans over one of the last typewriters left on planet earth, picking out fortunes letter by letter (he gets paid one nickel per completed fortune, and he averages about three per long day).

I researched the source of the fortunes, a company in Boulder City, Nevada.

They are out of business…You would think if you wrote the future, you would make really excellent business decisions, but I suppose not.

Time to out Zoltar.

Zoltar is a fraud, I want to say that. He’s a plagiarist in my book. Here is the original fortune teller, ZOLTAN. Zoltar obviously copied his look.

Zoltan is a bad-ass, and note you don’t just randomly get a fortune. You play an active role, by selecting your astrological sign, thus leading to a more individual destiny. You also get to pick up and listen to an old-school telephone. I’m sure this felt even more personal, like you just received a phone call from God.


Here is tricked-out Zoltan, so obviously you could customize him, too. I would like to have Zoltan in my bathroom.


The bidding starts at $6500.


Here is a schematic for Ander Monson. Hey, Ander Monson, put this in your Diagram thingy. This is how Zoltan actually tells the future!


Back to mine… Clever writing, this last part of my Moirai, actually taking spring (traditionally, in literature, a device connoting growth, rebirth, hope) and turning it into a time of rain (it is), showers of misery and flood and choking sorrow. As I said: Wow. Thanks, Zoltar, palmist of pain.

What to do?

I ran 5 miles up Hot Springs mountain, hopped in the hot tub without showering, met a Cajun fellow in the hot tub and he told me his business idea (He plans to open a Yelling Zoo. He goes, “You know, like a petting zoo, only you scream at all the animals! It calms your stress.”), dried off in my room, went to the hotel bar, drank a Spaten, a Spaten, a Budweiser, a jager, a jager, a Spaten, went to my room, threw things at the wall, got a knock on my door and a noise violation warning (embarrassing), fell asleep, woke, couldn’t find my phone battery (apparently my phone was thrown and shattered), drove home, told my mom I loved her, went to eat nachos with my cousin at my favorite restaurant, RP TRACKS, where I had BBQ tofu black bean nachos with a side of Fat Tire (and they let me keep the glass, keep the glass, Zoltar! You tea-leaf smelling mother fracker! You phony psychic of shitinits (infection of the shit?); you fraud-o exponential! Big sucks, dude! Tom Hanks sucks. He keeps playing Tom Hanks! That isn’t acting! Your movie sucks. You suck. I hope you get hit by a truck and don’t even see it coming! I hope your crystal ball pops  and withers like a balloon. I hope chicken feathers fall on your grave like the, the…I hope, uh [but I digress]).

calm, calm…(I need to go run now. Seriously.)

nacho rp

Taste like foreordination to me.

I guess I won’t write a decent book.

My favorite flower is the jonquil.

Well. OK.


Hot Springs Arkansas # 2

I came off the Hot Springs mountain and my knees hurt. Throbbed like immobile crowds.  I ran Dogwood Trail and Peak Trail (took me to the observation tower) and Dead Chief Trail (is that an appropriate name for a running trail? Not sure.) and then I drank 5.4 cups of the fortifying Hot Springs water.

The water flows from spigots all over the city. People gather and fill their hands and mouths and bottles and milk jugs. One greedy dude filled a Gatorade cooler.


Citizens gather to quaff the enjoyable water of naked poetic glow.

Now is time for the statistics/facts like water droplets. Spray the statistics/facts now. Where are the facts/statistics?

What are the Hot Springs? Rainfall 4000 years old, now seeping up from the ground. This made me wonder: wouldn’t it run out? I mean wouldn’t the rain end?

Did you learn any cool words? Yes. Hydro-geological, cathead (a type of biscuit), and empadinhas de palmito (I ate Brazilian in a quest for nachos).

I also learned a phrase: “taking the baths.” For 200 years, people traveled to Hot Springs to “take the baths.” I understood this phrase, since I often “take a run.”

How many springs are on the mountain? 47.

How large was your fancy hotel? Really fucking large. The Arlington is vast and Southern Gothic (luxury mixed with decay) and you might see a chandelier juxtaposed with a falling ceiling plaster, a golden leopard statue with a pile of beer bottles, a deck with two pools, a massive spring-fed hot tub, and then right behind the pool a sign in the woods noting that you are under 24 hour surveillance, while, uh, in the woods…

I met this Cajun guy who visits every year and he told me, “Listen son: Don’t be round the hot tub at night.” Uh, OK.


Big-ass hotel


Creepy sign right behind hot tub area

How hot is the water? 143 degrees Fahrenheit.

Did you go to a horse track and touch a horse statue when said statue clearly said DO NOT TOUCH. Yes, I did. It was great. I played blackjack also but everyone knows bringing a $50 bill to a horse track is bad luck. I had a 50 in my wallet. So.


At that temp, how do you bathe and drink the water? They cool it down first, dumb-ass. My bath was 104 degrees. I was thinking about bathing with corn and veggie hot dogs. Could you exit the bathe and then eat a lunch? I’ve been thinking about corn recently.

Did you eat nachos? What do you think? I’ll blog about Hot Springs nachos later. Jesus.

Did you disc golf? You seem to always disc golf.


Cedar Glades Park Disc Golf Course. Full blog here of the course, for those who give a dern.

What makes the water so special?

(milligrams per liter)

calcium 45, silica 42, magnesium 5, bicarbonate 165, sodium 4, potassium 2, sulfate 8, oxygen 3, carbon dioxide 10.

Did you have your fortune told? Yes. That’s for later. I had my entire fortune told. Wow.


Hot Springs Arkansas #1

To fortify myself for Hot Springs Arkansas I opened my parent’s cabinet above the sink and took out one of every vitamin they own and swallowed one of every vitamin they own and I’m not sure why I did this but sometimes I do things and I don’t know why. There were this many vitamins:


My breath smelled like oyster shells and wheat grass and I felt very strong. My stomach did a runover snake thing. The red one is iron. I feel like eating iron is maybe an OK thing to do. I washed down the vitamins with strawberry daiquiri malt liquor I bought from a gas station. It tasted like cough syrup cut with paint thinner cut with a poor man’s cigar cut with stupidity and reckless spending of cash.


I have no idea why I drank this. I already said I don’t know why I do things. I will report more about Hot Springs Arkansas later.

The springs are hot, as advertised. I will now go run 7 miles up a mountain.


Guest Post: Amy Clark Bringing Dzanc Books Best of the Web Words


Dzanc Books Best of the Web be out, shimmering upstream, all 2009 like a disco ball senate hearing, all lightning wrenches and cackle at the handicraft clusters. Fiction of fine thin bones and thick blood. Creative nonfiction that coughs and shaves and goes to parties. Poetry like poetry like poetry. All of it online.

I am the host with the toast today, as we raise our glasses to Amy Clark, a contributor from the 2009 issue. She will drop some words right here now. Amy Clark is an Assistant Professor of College Composition at Pine Manor College and has taught fiction, revision, and personal essay classes at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education for several years.  She has had fiction published in literary journals, including McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Quick Fiction and Fringe, and her work appears in the anthology Brevity and Echo.  Her collection Wanting, which was a finalist for the Rose Metal Press annual chapbook contest judged by Ron Carlson, was published by Rose Metal Press as part of the book A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women. She has always secretly wanted to be an astronaut.

Here is Amy’s post of goodness:

I wrote “Forearm and Elbow” while I was hiking in the Himalayas.  At the time, I was having an affair with a British photojournalist, so I was concerned about radiation poisoning.  And since we were camping pretty rough, I didn’t have my computer with me. I asked our guide, who was also our cook, if I could borrow some spare saffron, which I ground into a fine paste, using salt and a mortar and pestle.  Dipping my finger into the mixture, I painted the story on leaves of toilet paper and carried it all home in a plastic bag.

Okay, none of that is true.  I wrote “Forearm and Elbow” when my best friend, who has never been in a bus accident, and was not dating anyone at the time, was a freelance textbook editor.  She kept calling me on the phone in the middle of the day with bizarre statistics she had learned, and I spent a lot of time that summer trying to make sense of this minutia.  What did it mean, I was always asking myself, that it is possible to mediate some of the effects of radiation exposure?  Or that it is recommended that we all have a gallon of potable water in our house at all times, in case of environmental or political catastrophe?  So I suppose it is a story about the impotent sense of foreboding I can get sometimes when I think about the randomness of chance, and the difficulty of being lucky in life and in love.

I am enormously gratified that this piece found a home –first online at Juked, and now in the anthology Best of the Web 2009, even if it is still very much open to debate whether my character will ever find a real home.  My best friend, by the way, found a new home shortly after I wrote “Forearm and Elbow.”  She lives two doors down from where I live with my husband (who never complains about the dishes), and as I write this now I can look out from my back porch and see her garden.

Staggering Llama so.

I ran 9 miles today. 8 steady then a Tabata Protocol. (This particular link says the Tabata P sounds like “tantric sex” and I think that might be a bit much. But ask Gary Snyder [gee thanks, Jack K].) Anyway, I’ve been doing my research and I think this workout is actually valid, but I don’t believe research so just add the Tabata Protocol to the end of my old-school (meaning it takes a while and fucking hurts) workouts.

Some runner said lazy is when you say you are tired when you are not truly tired. So I suggest you just add this to your workouts. Sounds weird, but you can. You’re not really that tired. Come on. Just add this on the end, like an acorn.

Anyway, I feel exhausted now. Legs all window pane, volts behind my right ear. Pitch-fork handle in my back. Case of the yawns. But, amazingly, my hamstring felt OK today. Usually it is tight as Chilean desert twine, or is it wine? Can wine be tight?

(This guy at my house who cleans Spackle off robots for a living): “Dude, this wine be tight. I mean I am feeling it like Madonna.”

(This woman at my house who stacks oranges): “Way tight. I mean watching-an-American-win-the-French-Open tight.”

(Me, reclined. I am wearing slippers made from Velveeta cheese): “Yeh, it’s Chilean. Chile is the new Australia. Australia is the new silver and black. Silver and black is the new pink. So I mean this wine is pink.”


Speaking of RUNNING.


The Fresh Air Fund is still looking for runners and sponsors to join the Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Half-Marathon on August 16.

Are you in shape?

Can you help?

Do you like pain the way barefoot likes a field of wheat?

Link here: RUN KINDA FAR.


I am heading to the backwoods. They don’t have computers. Everyone is a squirrel. Squirrels don’t give a damn about computers.

drunk squirrel

Ha, ha, very funny image (if you are age 4)! Idiot. God. I look at my reflection in the mirror and retch.

Aside: I asked my grandfather once how to clean a new gun (a new gun is packed in certain oils and has instructions about cleaning and maintenance and safety and so on before you actually use the gun) and my GF looked at me like I was fucking stupid, or like I just pulled a purple bullfrog out my ear, and he grabbed the gun and loaded it and walked out to the red brick front porch and shot it in the night, straight up at this big-ass silver dollar moon, and handed the gun back to me and said, “There-you-go.”


A photo of my uncle and me, dancing. I think this was a Depeche Mode day.

dale n sean

(we all want to form our own little religions, don’t we?)

Personal Jesus….


Disc Golf is Basically Bad Ass.

Dinner be organic, yo. Harvested that deer. Grew that sweet corn in the rain gutters of my house. No, no, bought it from a smelly guy with a gray mullet. Dude smelled like a charred piano. He was on the side of the road in a Pinto, the exploding car. You hardly ever see gray-hair mullets. I liked it. Respect.



Today was one of those weird disc golf days where it all came together. First thing, the weather was all rainbow crystal gavel of hipster girl with NO2 tank and skinny glasses. She dances in circles and sells you two balloons for 5 dollars. She is so alive, so full of self/lightning you can’t believe the dude with her (guy is wearing a football jersey and has large head like an eggplant, loud voice like an eggplant, ball cap bent all cheese curl). Then she enters her white van and drives away, so enjoy her while she is in your world. Clouds in the shape of Ethel Merman’s head. Trees swayed, breeze breezed, ground grounded, all of that. I even saw a hawk pounce on a Mountain Dew can and crush it like zucchini bread. Our disc golf course has some bad-ass hawks. Wow. I felt high like an index. (Indexes used to be high, bear with me.)

Then I see a bunch of families on the course, a bunch of young kids, a mom, etc. This is why we (me, a grad student at BSU, a gracious course designer who took no fee) built the course.  Before disc golf the park was a haven of drug deals and gay sex (not that there is anything wrong with either, but maybe a public park isn’t the best venue?).


Can you see the kids? They are way in the back. They are small because they are kids. Kids are usually small. Anyway.

I put two new holes in the ground. The disc golf club hems and haws, while I just go out and put holes in the ground. I don’t ask permission. Know why? Because I have the mf’n keys to every basket. I am the Key Master. If you are ever the Key Master, even as a metaphor, don’t give it up lightly. It feels pretty good.

Hole 6 is sweet:

hole 6

Look at the new hole 6! You can go forehand or backhand, hyzer or anhyzer. Glossary here. If you don’t play disc golf you are asleep now. Fuck off then.

I also put in a new hole 17.

hole 17

I will get DIY on your ass. I will buy Quick-Crete and bring a level, real honest-2-God level. Check out that big L to R shot. You don’t even have that shot because you are a weak-ass and all your discs fall off to the left. Ha. Ha. F you (or go buy a stingray).

I also shot -5 today, my course record. I told you it was a good day. To each their own.


Coke. Dude, I love Coke.


Bambi Tenderloin or Maybe Read New Dogzplot Now.

You get the venison tenderloin and you butterfly the tenderloin and you broil like golden warbles 2 minutes, flip, and you add the thin as fingerprints layer of pesto sauce and broil two minutes and add the fat big firm tomato and add the slice of electricity hollow provolone and there you go, there you go, 100% organic steroid free no hormones never caged since I know I arrowed it with a bow at 10 yards quartering away (most ethical angle for arrow penetration/lethality/double lung/heart) and I kill what I eat and maybe less abstract not like an aluminum ball passed through a drive-thru window or cellophane and the blood is on my hands like maybe eons ago and that’s how I am trying/caring to and also vegetarian is good if I shoot no deer I go vegetarian and tonight it tasted like big as God pale raspberries on a 14,000 private party cobbler of rhinestone hats all creamy.



The new Dogzplot is here and it is chunky loaded! This is exactly why I love online lit mags, an eclectic mix, arriving in my computer box of groove.

–There is an interview of Adam Robinson I find rather good. It is a mix of useful info and then the usual Dogzplot humorous questions/answers/riff, so a lively read. I prefer this format to the earlier Dogzplot way, which can sometimes ONLY be quirky question and answer, without writing/publishing/process content by the writer (example Mary Miller). I prefer the style/pop/glow of Adam’s interview, but that’s just me.

–There is story by Amy Holloran I liked because I love persona fiction, ones where writer inhabits persona or even just visits with persona and maybe relates to, or changes with, or persona as big ol’ objective correlative, like here, where narrator is, “I am alienated. Want to leave my situation. Want to fly. Help me, Amelia Earhart.”

Another example, from Smokelong Q, the excellent flash, “Raymond Carver.” This kicks ass: Dan Chaon actually writes a Carver type story with Carver in the story, as character, and in the way the story as homage and satire and all meta-crazy form=function. My point is persona fiction can be many things.

[I actually wrote a letter story once to the same flying and lost woman, Amelia Earhart]

–I love bar stories and Paulette Livers brings it with this one. Why? Language lined liked rows of beer. Author brings the words in big-ass foamy sentences of glass.

shambles over and slumps into the booth katty-corner

The bicycle folds into the churning water like walnuts in chocolate cake batter…

etc. etc. etc.

People break up so easy in the movies. Like Jenifer’s A’s character will go, “Look Stan, I realized something today while throwing a football in Central Park with a black lab montage: you’re just not the man for me. The marriage is off.” And Stan will shrug and go, “Uh, OK” and walk off. Anyway I was just thinking this after reading Donora Hillard’s “Devolution,” a break-up poem thing I do love. Seems real here, not spangly.


You think relationships are easy? Well, fuck you in the note of C!!!

I also love Shriparna Sarkar’s “Ebb.”

I didn’t enjoy the line “ocean of stars” because it seemed ordinary, but the others did not seem ordinary and anyone who can grill venom, who can write, “when their venom is grilled/folded up” is OK, better than OK with me, so I just said I love this poem.

The others poems in this issue I just like.

Great issue of Dogzplot. I am thankful. Made me read and think and read and then, uh, think. So. I hope everyone knows to read online lit mags exclusively for 3 months then go back to print if you want but be sure to read both because why catch a comet-bus line way that is already gone or something. Twitter sucks.


I got my Hayden’s Ferry contract today and they pay. Wow. They pay money. Wow. OK, beer money for me. I once wrote a story and was paid a sweet one thousand dollars. That will never happen again. The Denver Post used to pay me to write about crayfish. That won’t happen either. Not sure where I am going with this. Pay me or not, I will write something once in a while either way.

BTW, I used to think HFR was the slowest lit mag in the mega-verse as far as contacting a writer for an accept/reject/whatever, but I guess they have changed a few things. Their correspondence has been crisp. So heads up. Send them something.


I need to run 10 miles this morning. My hamstring feels like fuck. My left foot throbs like the story she told herself at the kitchen table. Painful. Oh well. Shut up Sean stupid-ass waaa-waaa ( me no like complainers) of and go run.




Claudia Smith be Wigleaf Five Beers Full

There is a story by Haruki Murakami, the Second Bakery Attack. It opens with newlyweds experiencing a great hunger. It shows us the contents of their refrigerator: “Our refrigerator contained not a single item that could be technically categorized as food. We had a bottle of French dressing, six cans of beer, two shriveled onions, a stick of butter, and a box of refrigerator deodorizer.”

(Like all Murakami stories, it is 1st person POV, and people will soon be drinking beer. But where is the cat? A rare exception. No cat here.)

We learn all we need to know from the fridge items. They can’t make a meal. While they have a scattering, they don’t have a regalement, a snack, a sustenance. These are characters–and a marriage–in need. The empty fridge is a microcosm, and metaphor. In fiction, objects are significant. They are always an opportunity. (This is one reason you might want to populate your fiction with objects.)

{Metaphors should be organic, like homemade pizza. [I might have possibly made the ugliest pizza on the planet. But dern–it taste good…]


When I say organic I mean they appear naturally, not as “I am going to write a metaphor now.” Example. Look at Carver’s Little Things (A Freytag story, an allusion, among other things). It is minimalist, so doesn’t have many objects, right? True, but what gets knocked over as the couple fight in the kitchen? A flower in a pot. So? Well, can the pot act as metaphor? Yes. It can also act as image, as sound, as conflict, on and on. But, in its essence, it is a flower pot, in a kitchen first. }

In Claudia Smith’s “Leak” (Wigleaf Top 50 choice, and published in Juked, Juked, Juked), we get this opening: “She used up the bits left in the refrigerator; frozen peas, half a zucchini, an inch of white wine, a yellow tomato. There were five bottles of Shiner beer, something she wouldn’t drink because she didn’t like to drink alone.”

What do we learn here? Something of class. An interesting image of the 5 beers standing there, missing their one companion (the 6th of the pack). A possibly unreliable narrator. We get a sense maybe she doesn’t like to drink alone, but she does do it.

Then we learn she cooks in a Teflon skillet. Her husband took the cast iron one, and her husband, like that one beer and that bottle of wine, is gone.

[Who in the fuck takes a person’s cast iron skillet? You can make nachos in a skillet!]

nachos S

I’d argue we learn something about the husband here, too. And as the story continues, we learn its quintessence, every thing we need to know:

“Mom, you know what you do when you stir like that.”

“I’m simmering the vegetables.”

“You shimmer it.  It’s called you shimmer it, Mom.”

The moon was pressing against the door, leaking slivers of light in through the cracks.  The house wasn’t well insulated.

“It won’t get in, don’t worry,” she told her son.

“How do you know?”

“I won’t let it.”

As we know, one beauty of flash fiction is the ability for the reader to take the story off the page. A woman’s life is shimmering. A situation is shimmering. Quivering. Shaking. Should I say tremor? But she has it together (really)? In fact, she can halt the progress of the moon….right.

Things said to children. Tension in helpful lies. Helpful lies itself a phrase of tension. And we know, in our hearts, the children are wise to the game. They accept the lie, but not really…a cycle of mutual help/anti-help, a…coiled thing.

[To me, magical realism is then the fantastic enters realism, BUT IS SEEN AS REAL. The moon might be seeping in the door, or (again) might be metaphor for all of life’s tendencies (to eventually fall apart, to harm), but, in the words of the woman: “We’re okay,” she said.]

Yes, they are OK.

No, they are not OK.

I think this story is about fear. About consequences. About the impossibility of avoiding consequences (stay inside, refuse to move–even that will have a consequence, etc.). About hey look I am trying against big odds here, against like big tides and shit, big forces, the fucking moon!

I think I am trying to write about objects again here. This story swells with them. With things, how they enter our lives and leave them (they outlive us, remember?).

I would like to end by saying I enjoyed this flash. It made my synapses crackle.

And by quoting another Claudia Smith story, “The Harvest Moon”

What is a symbol?


I can’t tell you, I explain.  But I know it when I see it.


Nash-Vegas Celebrity god blar.

New Chapbook Review issue is out. Very wicked site, if you don’t know already.

Smart site. Smart idea.


I went to Nash-Vegas for 4th. Almost made it in time to see The Dollar Store Summer Tour, but, alas, no go. A mixture of traffic and then me thinking: If I go see Blake and Aaron and Jac (of the awesome rejection blog, she rocks) read, I will drink a lot of beer. And I can’t drink a lot of beer on that Friday. Why?

dollar dude

The fuck you looking at? One dollar. All of it.


Road racing. Ran the Run for Music City 10k race. Results here: I got 3rd overall. It was hot as fuck. It was hilly. I forgot Nash-vegas could be hot and hilly. I wasn’t happy or unhappy with the time. This is basically the shape (or not shape?) I am in right now. My body hurts a lot. My body goes crump-O. Lash. I keep thinking of one advantage to getting older, and haven’t yet got there. Wisdom? Are you shitting me now? I think my hamstring is permanently tight. A stretched rubber band. Twang. Guess I’ll just live that way. Sometimes I flow like a wrench. Flow like gravel, or maybe disposable camera plastic.

250 soldiers in Afghanistan ran the race “with us,” same start time, same shirts, numbers, all that. Interesting. And a NAVY Seal did win the race in Nashville. Usually, military guys are in shape but not so fast, so I was surprised.

So I guess that’s how I roll on the 4th. Patriotic people usually scare me, but I’ll do anything for one morning a year. If I said it wasn’t cool to run with 250 soldiers across the planet I would be a liar. They should have done a flyover (they did in Afghanistan). Maybe next year? They did a flyover at Boston. Whenever I see a military jet flyover low I think it’s pretty cool, and then I think of bombs.

The race started about a block (and within nearly the same time it seems) from where Steve McNair and his girlfriend (rest in peace, seriously) were being killed, in downtown Nashville. I guess she shot him and then herself, but we’ll see. I’m certainly not going to make assumptions. I guess the story will be twofold: McNair the football player. McNair the married man with four children shot down by his 20 year old girlfriend. I’m a Titans fan and a flawed human fan, so can only hope and pray the vultures have their say quickly and the next new sparkling story/glittering thing sends the media pack/flock elsewhere.

Seems a rough stretch for the celebrities, folks. Started with Carradine to Ed McMahon and Farrah and MJ and the dude who screams at you to buy things and on and on and on…I think I forgot some. But I’m not really into celebrities that way. I find them sociologically fascinating, but as for their daily lives/photos of, I’m not sure I get it. OK, that’s a cop-out. I get some of it.

I guess they show us WE DO NOT KNOW ANYONE. Not really, from Steve McNair to your neighbor Fred Fredly, to, uh, you. But this seems an obvious lesson. How many times are people going to go “Hike the Appalachian trail” before we understand, people?

Appearance over here.

Reality over here….

(speaking of literature. This is the terrain we mine)

And, yes, celebrities are clearly our gods now, so I suppose a lot of people’s lives are rocked by all these deaths. Or maybe their lives aren’t changed one single meaningful iota. There’s an essay about this somewhere, fermenting.

barefoot Britney Spears cry picture[5]

About toy dogs.

And about hair.

And about iPhones. I just attended a party where all the adults stared into their PHONES and didn’t talk with me. Maybe they didn’t want to talk to me, or even like me or want to like me, but it just felt really Twilight Zone or maybe worse than that and was the first party in a while that kinda freaked me out. (The last party to freak me out was a Halloween years ago. I entered this house and every room was blue, this eerie subterranean lighting. And every person was on the floor, most of them hugging, or embraced somehow. Room after room of this. Weird. I walked through each room, each one silent, just people on the floor intertwined, and then I just walked out, over to another house, where there was normal lighting and talking and beer.)

Back to this 4th. People kept checking their weather radars online and posting on Facebook and who knows what, but they sure weren’t mingling with me. Oh well. So I attended a party and met no one, not really. OK. Well. I guess I feel depressed about the whole thing. Like now we have three (or 4, 5? I know people have multiple online IDs) identities.

1.) The I Have My Shit Together Self. This is the identity we use during a lot of the day, at work, when meeting others, while ordering a veggie burger at Burger King, etc. This is a false but usual identity. Sometimes things actually get done while in this mode. For all of our faults and mistakes and stumblness, the human can occasionally have their shit together, for real. For a short while. Usually not though. This is the identity that asks people, “What’s up?” or “How are things” and this same identity always answers, “Good” or “I’m cool” no matter what the interior/exterior events of the actual life being lived. I suppose this identity is necessary, but does come with consequences. (the mirror? A superficial existence and then it’s too late? On and on.)

2.) The Actual Self. The actual self doesn’t really Have My Shit Together so much. Not near as often as Self #1 tries to present. This self comes out with authentic friends, some family, right before you fall asleep in night thoughts, or when staring into flames or a deep river or maybe Big Wine or right after some life event. But that’s OK. This self doesn’t walk around in Bad Faith. This self Keeps it Real. It’s probably best to increase the % of this self as you grow older, and that is usually the way it goes. You don’t want to spend too much of your life in identity #1. It’s an existential math problem, but now we have a new data set, new numbers screwing up the equation:


3.) The Online Self. WTF? This self has a lot of “friends,” quite a few they don’t even know. Have never seen. What’s up with the obsession with the weather? When has the weather become the new pink? Can I say one thing about Twitter? There is not one human being I care what they are doing minute-2-minute. Not one. Sorry. And if you care what I am doing minute-2-minute, you must, must, must go to Ebay and bid on, buy a life. Friends. Add a friend. Delete a friend. Friends. Newspapers gone. Blog this. Tweet. I’m feeling mossy, like a Sun, Sun System, Youtube lost half a billion dollars last year. Etc.

Online is awesome. Great place to do many great things. But this identity online thing is unraveling, absorbing, f’d up. And it is only just beginning. We don’t know what we don’t know. Or something.

(the irony of writing all of this while online, while blogging, the irony of….loops and loops, helices)

How to justify a blog? Try to help others. Try to report on others. Try to elevate writing itself, not a writer? Try to…I just hope people are asking. This thing is too young for answers. But we have to ask. I’ll be back to you.

These are thought-notes and way too long.

(Cool thing is when identity two leaks through identity one: woman with loud, crazy laugh; dude giving presentation is clearly hungover, etc. Again, aren’t I discussing literature here?)

Back to the road race. Actual physical movement. Foot on earth. Sweat on face. Pain (never virtual).


I didn’t take my dig cam to the road race, so just use your imagination here:


Mile 1 and 2, we cross the Cumberland River, huge hills, massive bridges, and I let the whipper-snaps and rabbits go on ahead. I know I will see them later. How cool is that bridge, though? Looks like a concrete rib bone. Hills. I just shorten my stride and keep my knees high. Pump, pump. I think about all the miles I put it on my treadmill with hill workouts.

Running Tip: Train on hills. Most people don’t. Then, when you race, GREET a hill with PLEASURE, not with fear and pain. Think: Hills? I’m about to kick some exponential ass.


Mile 3 and 4, I reel people in. See that guy in the orange singlet? He’s dying now, and I am going to fold him up like origami. That’s how I always race. I wait and reel people in. I sustain. I’m not that fast, but one of my earlier coaches told me once, “Your strength is your strength.” Meaning: I can grind. Grind. Grind. Maintain pace. Also, the course was two 3.1 mile loops, so I mapped out where to surge, make moves on others while running lap one. By lap two, I knew the course.

Run tip: You are getting tired now. Your form is falling apart. How do you know? Because correct running form is basically silent. Now you hear your feet slapping a bit? So sharpen your form. Let your arms and upper body correct the posture. Relax your mouth, let it fall open. If your mouth and chin are relaxed, the rest of your body will follow.

[If you hear an opponent’s feet getting loud, throw a surge on them. Dust them like a crop]

(Tip inside tip: This is why you do weight training, as a runner. Your upper body can carry your form for you, when things get tough in the leg department.)

[When you surge past someone, when you pass, surge WELL PAST, like ten more yards than you need to pass them. Why? It psychologically devastates people to get passed. Then you go even further! Don’t even look tired? They see that and they’re done. You won’t be seeing them again until much later, when you will have to say “excuse me” to ask them to move as you walk up to get your award).


Note how I bring it home strong here, legs pumping, hands loose, fingers curled like I am cupping/cradling an egg? But I missed getting second by ONE SECOND. Well, hell. Couldn’t catch the dude, what can I say? Honestly, I didn’t realize I was in 3rd.

Oh well.

Next time…


Brandi Wells has the best text in the new deComp. It is a 4.35 out of 1-5 scale.


Sean Loses Again but has Running Tip Like Looting Zoo.

Um, who in the hell runs down a road at night?

Today I got an email from Quarterly West telling me my short story collection was a finalist for their book contest. This is another way of saying I did not win.

This same collection was finalist for the Spokane Book Prize last year. And so on…


Somebody fucking publish my collection already.

So I was pretty pissed this morning. I needed pain. Like above video pain.

Fartlek AND Tabata!

3 min 6:00 pace 3 min 6:00 pace

4 min 6:00 pace 3 min 5:56 pace

3 min 5:56 pace 3 min 5:52 pace

Then the Tabata Protocol right after.

Here is workout tip. I call it the “Yawn” test. If you want a sure-fire way to judge the seriousness of a workout, one that increases fitness as opposed to only sustaining your current level, ask one question: Are you yawning immediately after? Like feeling you need a nap, now. Seriously, only a few workouts–esp if you are in shape–will have this effect. It’s a good way to measure your intensity. To assure yourself you are elevating the stress on the body, to get to the next level, the next, the…

Oh man did I just yawn. My legs whimper like secondhand flowers. There is a red dye of rational in my lung-works. Exhale, inhale, hear a click of good.


In better news Barrelhouse took a story of mine about cocaine. A shout-out to Samuel Ligon, since he helped me edit the story! I think it will be online in September.

Hayden’s Ferry took one too, about Che Guevara’s omelets.

I’ll link to all of that stuff when it comes out later, later, later.




I finished the new Quick Fiction 15. Strong, and great variety of style/voice/language flux. It did lean a little heavy on realism for my taste, but that’s not entirely true. A foot does go off walking (Taylur Thu Hien Ngo) and Andrew Michael Roberts drops some luscious language-centered glee on the mirrors of our eyeballs.

I like “Clerk” by Stefan Kiesbye. It is about a promiscuous 60 year old woman. and the young man who sold her running shoes. I would like to see more stories involving running shoes and sex. Some of the best were written by Andre Dubus.

I like “Flight to Maui” by Jen Marquardt. “Her neck was bent like a Klimt painting…” Word on that.

The best was “Heist” by Elizabeth Ellen. I read it several times. It is damn good, like cold air through cracks of the mind, under doors. It has word-play and more authors need to word play now. It felt human and real to me and I think that’s why we do this. To feel less alone in our meanderings. To make someone feel less alone. Also, in a sad way, which is the best way, it is funny.

To figure things out.

To figure.