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Category: Writing

Old truck mystery…

OldTruck_firetruck

When I say “karma realm” do you ask “where?”
Do you know they had a university there?
And a red firetruck that ran around?
Until the college burned to the ground?

Did you see the smoke from the fire?
Ask yourself, have you been higher?
Has that truck passed to a higher plane?
Like a firefly in the pouring rain?

All these questions and endless more
Lie scattered on the forest floor.
So judge the fireman if you must,
While his valiant truck parks in dust.

But know one day your emergency call
On sacred karmic ears may fall,
And the truck they send from other realms
Is rusting out among the elms.

Thanks for the choke, Chuck!

Met one of my literary heroes today: Chuck Palahniuk. He tried to choke me out!

Chuck_choke

FIGHT CLUB is one of my favorite books. When the trailer for the movie came out, a lot of people dismissed it as gratuitous violence and skipped the movie. Their loss, because it’s not really about a bunch of dudes punching each other, it’s about a young man finding his identity in a culture of relentless consumerism and self-absorbed self-improvement.

“Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer…
Maybe self-destruction is the answer.”

I was lucky enough to patch things up with my father before his final self-destruction. FIGHT CLUB was a part of coming to terms with that. Today I got to thank Chuck in person for his contribution to that life event for me. And I asked him to inscribe my old and dog-eared copy to my son…

Chuck_inscription

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… and definitely worth more than a 20-year grudge. If you’re lucky enough to have a father still breathing, call him now. Do whatever you have to do to bury the hatchet. Don’t let it bury you.

And, oh yeah… check out Chuck’s new comic series, FIGHT CLUB 2!

Chuck_comics

Where the hell did THAT come from?

Someone asked me where I got the idea for A HERO IS ALWAYS ALONE SOMETIMES. And, yeah, it’s kinda weird…

We recently bought a vintage audio console. You know, the kind with a record player and radio and tube amp built in? One of those big ol’ suckers you might’ve seen in your grandparent’s house? It looks like this:

Korting_Delmonico

So I went out and bought a few records, some new ones, some old ones that took me back. One of the oldies was this piece of post-punk Brit-pop:

album_PsychFurs

 

I put it on and danced around the living room like some outcast from the Breakfast Club. After trying to explain the 80’s to our four-year-old (who responded by throwing a plastic dinosaur at my head) I flipped it over to the B-side and lowered the needle onto “My Time”…

You can have anything you can hold in your hand
And a hero is always alone

…and I thought, but what if someone wanted to be that hero’s sidekick? Then, naturally, but what if that hero didn’t want a sidekick? Followed by, what if that sidekick didn’t care?

Add a renegade wife, a dysfunctional support group, and a flatulent dog, and there you have it: A HERO IS ALWAYS ALONE SOMETIMES.

PS: for proof that the 80s were both awesome and terrifying, witness the big hair and sunglasses known as The Psychedelic Furs!

License to write sh*t, courtesy of Ernest Hemingway!

If you read, chances are at some point in your life you’ve wanted to write. Maybe the memoirs of your cat (please don’t) or a vampire romance (god no) or something tasteful, like the romantic memoirs of your vampire cat (now we’re talking!).

Maybe you started writing it. Maybe even got to page two. Or maybe it’s done and you’ve published it and Hollywood has optioned it with Scarlett Johansson to play your sexy vampire cat and Liam Neeson’s people called and he wants the leading man role but only if he can punch the cat and…

Oddly enough, writing is the easy part, it’s the reading it back that kills. Because when you read it, it sucks. So you give up and throw it away and probably blame your not-really-a-vampire cat. But not so fast…

Hemingway said, “All first drafts are shit.” He should know, he wrote gobs of books, most of them pretty damn good. And they all started as shitty first drafts. So go ahead, give yourself license to write shit. In fact, here’s a license for you to download:

license_Hemingway2

Right-click & download image

Just print it out, fill in your info and sign it. And from now on, anytime you write something and say “this is shit,” you’ll know you have Hemingway’s blessing.

Unicorn’s birthday

It was the cutest morning ever in Cheery Valley. Butterfly, Bunny and Kitten were cuddled together under the rainbow for Unicorn’s first birthday party.

“I hope she’s surprised,” said Butterfly.
“It’s going to be her best birthday ever,” said Bunny.
“Balls,” said Kitten, for Kitten had Tourette’s.

Even considering Kitten’s condition, they knew it was going to be a lovely party under the rainbow. They each had brought something special.

“I brought a pretty piece of ribbon for her to tie on her tail,” said Butterfly.
“I brought ice cream,” said Bunny, “and homemade sprinkles!”
“Nigga, please,” said Kitten.
“Kitten!” the others shouted, and blew him kisses to make him feel better.

Kitten was responsible for bringing the present. It was a small box, for he could only manage small things, being a kitten. He had wrapped it himself with pages from a magazine he swiped from a corner store. There were Ladyhumans all over it, with their furry parts showing.

“I wonder where their clothes are,” Butterfly said.
“Look, the Manhuman is trying to poke them with his magic wand,” said Bunny.
Kitten tried to say something but he just coughed, for he was working up a hairball.

Then they heard it: the jingly, tingly sound of Unicorn prancing their way. They ducked under the rainbow. They knew Unicorn would be coming by. She always ran to the rainbow every morning to pee.

“Surprise!” shouted Butterfly.
“Happy birthday!” shouted Bunny.
“Ack!” shouted Kitten, depositing a shiny, wet hairball at Unicorn’s feet.

“For me?” said Unicorn. She was delighted. But she also had to pee. She squatted daintily and puffed out a mist of sparkles.

“I got a ribbon for your tail,” said Butterfly.
“Thank you,” said Unicorn, “but let’s wait ’til after I poop to put it on.”
“And we have ice cream!” Bunny said.
“Bitch shat you some sprinkles,” Kitten said.
“Kitten!” they all shouted, and laughed, for it was the cutest morning ever in Cheery Valley.

In a while the screaming would begin, as the Dragons appeared overhead, burning everyone alive in the hunt for a tasty breakfast. But until then, the four friends sat under the rainbow, enjoying their ice cream. Even the sprinkles.

“The People’s Pervert”

That’s what the Pulitzer Prize-winning news source The Guardian calls John Waters. And I tell you what, he fits the bill. A filthy, charming old weasel of a man. Completely irreverent. Fresh out of fucks to give about what the public thinks is tasteful.

I had the pleasure of hearing him read at his signing event for Carsick, forty sassy sagas about what the 66-year-old “homo-hobo” hoped / feared / experienced on his hitchhike from way-out Baltimore to this here San Francisco.

“I’d like to praise the drivers who picked me up. If I ever hear another elitist jerk use the term flyover people, I’ll punch him in the mouth. My riders were brave and open-minded, and their down-to-earth kindness gave me new faith in how decent Americans can be.” –John Waters

I won’t tell the story he read because, quite frankly, it was one of those “you had to be there” moments that left the audience alternately laughing and gagging. Let’s just say there was a vegan nazi who literally scared the shit out of him. Get the book, you’ll see what I mean.

During the Q&A someone asked him what’s the weirdest signing he’s had to do. He said he’s signed a vasectomy scar, but never an ass scar. So, of course, this had to happen:

JohnWaters_signing_v2

Love him or loathe him, you gotta admit: the world needs freaks. Roll on, Waters.

Check out the weirdo on the bus…

Yeah I’m the weirdo on the bus.
Stuck in traffic on the highway.
Plugged in and zoned out.
Three hours a day to work.

I beat the words a mile at a time.
A month later I’ve got a little book.
A month later, another book.
Mile after mile, another and another.

Four bootstrapped little books.
And a bigger book for the finale.
Now I’ve got an entire series.
Books made out of empty miles.

Cos I’m the weirdo on the bus.
Stuck in traffic on the highway.
Plugged in and zoned out.
And singing in silence.

bus_JH

^ weirdo

 

Those who cannot remember the past are what again?

Kurt Vonnegut said, “we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.” I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling VERY alive.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few years about the future. Sometimes I worry. I’ve got two kids, a quarter century apart. Hedging my bets for the future? Maybe. I vacillate between cautious optimism and reckless freakouts. So at least I know I’m alive. But I think about the future, for my wife and myself, for our oldish daughter and our youngish son, and try to check the balances.

So why this book series, and why now?

70 years ago, a villain exterminated millions of people, and the heroes who stopped him dropped atomic bombs on millions of other people. Well, we don’t kill each other in the millions any more, so I can say things have gotten better — a little better, anyway. Enough that I can hope that in the next 70 years, my children will live in a world where people can learn how to live together and do what’s right. Perhaps that’s why I wrote these books.

That and the fact that I have one hell of a commute.

bus

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