Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Coming...

...the Annual I'm o.k, I'm all write end of year reflection blog dealy thing whatsamajigger.

It will be filled with reflections on school, the writing process, love, family, felines, age, money, politics, work and others. Keep your eyes peeled for it!

And now, an announcement:

Kathy and I would like to announce to the blogniverse (and, I suppose, to the blogosphere, too) that our family has recently grown. We have adopted a new kitten.

She is four months old, weighs about two pounds, and is a long-haired red tabby (orange tabby, as I like to call them because they are way more orange than red). Her name is Amethyst, and despite my mother's suggestion her nickname will not be Meth. I will post a picture (because apparently, blogs with photos are more interesting than just words) as soon as she stays still long enough for us to snap one. If we're lucky, we'll get a picture of the both of the cats, Acrodyl and Amethyst, so that you can see the contrast between a long hair and a short hair and also the even more alarming contrast between a two pound cat and a thirteen pound cat.

This is likely my last post of 2008, so enjoy your New Year's Eve! I'll be back shortly after the start of 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And Now, More Things I Learned This Semester

I don't know if I've wrapped every semester like this, and I'm too lazy to check back. In my mind, I have done this every semester, and I've boiled each class down to a single paragraph containing one thing I took away from each class.

A list of surprising things Elliot learned this semester.

I learned that eight years later, I remembered all the words to John Donne's Holy Sonnet #14 (the first line is "At the round Earth's imagin'd corners" and it was turned into a choral piece that I sang my senior year of high school). Sadly, though this was in our book, it was not one that we had to read, so therefore, served me no purpose when th extra credit question was to copy out an entire sonnet that we had read for this semester.

Collaborating on a screenplay, even just six pages of one and a synopsis, basically means that by the time it's done you've got a product that nobody in your group really wants to lay claim to. And also that if left to it with no clear direction, one group will turn out a screenplay that feels so much like Beckett's Endgame even though none of them have ever so much as seen a play.

I may have already discussed this, but Ernest Hemingway writes the best.sentences.ever. Don'e believe me? Check it out, Shortstack:

"The girl came in with the coffee and buttered toast. Or, rather, it was bread toasted and buttered."

and this is the best exchange of dialogue in a novel, ever:

"You asked me what I knew about Brett Ashley"
"I didn't ask you to insult her."
"Oh, go to hell."
He stood up from the table with his face white, and stood there white and angry behind the plates of hors d'oeurves.
"Sit down," I said. "Don't be a fool."
"You've got to take that back."
"Oh, cut out the prep-school stuff."
"Take it back."
"Sure. Anything. I never heard of Brett Ashley. How's that?"
"No. Not that. About me going to hell."
"Oh, don't go to hell," I said. "Stick around. We're just starting lunch."

I learned that I am almost as much of a beer snob as some people are wine snobs. And also that I still harbor ill will towards a former employer of mine. And also that getting the teacher drunk before giving your own presentation actually pays off.

See the post just below this one to see another amazing thing I learned. But the other thing I learned for this particular class is that the WU Lab Fee pays for ridiculous stuff sometimes. Like T-shirts and bags of chips and a DVD viewing system that works just about as well as you'd expect a rusted out Pinto to work.

I learned that I can, in fact, be a good writer some day. And I think that one's probably the most important thing I learned. After the spring semester, for some reason I was feeling like maybe my skills weren't as keen as I thought. That actually kind of explains the lackluster blogging. But now, I turned out seriously a hell of a piece, I think. And the thing about it is, like with my one-act play I wrote last fall (which I actually shouldn't mention the title of at this point, since I submitted it to a blind competition and you can never be too sure about who is clicking on links and googling my name), the subject matter is important to me in a very personal way. And that's all I'll say about it for now.

Happy Holidays. Maybe over break I'll blog a little more. And then after that...


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting Older

Getting older has its perks. I mean, I'm not talking like I'm really old or anything. Twenty-six is still young and vital and there's plenty of time for me to make an impact in the world, hell, there's time at 56, 76, 96 to do so. But what I'm talking about is generally aging one year, and specifically reaching that mark where you officially turn the page on a year in your life. I'm talking about Birthdays.

Birthdays are fun because for one day, everybody sort of treats you like royalty. This isn't always true, though; I've had some doozies of bad times on my birthdays before. Any year my birthday falls on a Wednesday, it sort of gets swallowed up in the pre-Thanksgiving madness. The last time my birthday fell on a Tuesday, I had to be up at 5 in the morning to go to work. I've faced math tests, literature presentations, a girlfriend cheating on me (she didn't want to break up with me and ruin my birthday, she told me three days later when she did break up with me, and then it was New Year's Eve before I found out about the cheating from-get this-the guy she cheated with, real class act this girl), blizzards, a family neglecting me because my grandmother had just died (which, okay, really I forgive them, but it adds extra spice), long car trips, severe disappointment in gifts ("Oh boy...double A batteries. I could use those in a Sega Game Gear...if only I had a Sega Game Gear. But I don't. And this was the last present. Gee, thanks."), and the inevitable birthday beatdown from "friens" such as Chad Thompson and Cullen Shearburn. And, let's not forget that my father's birthday is one week and one day before mine, so now instead of doing two separate celebrations, we just group them together on the Sunday in between our birthdays (but I don't really mind sharing with my father).

But all in all, birthdays are great. Good looking girls who normally give you a passing "hello" in the halls smile and give you hugs. People spend money on you. Mom asks you what you want for dinner, and then actually makes it for you. And did I mention that people spend money on you? My father and I had our dual celebration this evening and one of my gifts was a pack of AA batteries and a Mary Kay Timewise Lotion box containing a Wiimote. The Wii, itself, was at home. And now it's hooked up and ready to distract me from all of my studies, family, work, obligations and (most dire to you folks) this blog.

My birthday takes place this coming Friday, November 21st. I like Friday birthdays for all the obvious reasons; you get to actually go out on your birthday and stay out late. You have a full day to recover from it afterwards, and then another day after that to accomplish all the things you meant to accomplish the rest of the weekend.

The last time I had a birthday on a Friday was 2003, my 21st birthday. The golden birthday, as it were. On a Friday. I mean...how great is that? But, as I recall, I somehow ended up only drinking a (pronounced "ah" as in one very singular depressing) beer and then managed to end up at my place of employ, buying a fake Christmas Tree for my parents (using my discount, of course). Then, we went to The City Museum, but for some reason I ended up driving...

And this Friday, I will actually be packing for a weekend trip to Springfield, IL, to see the Christmas Decorations and the Lincoln museums and such, with Kathy and our friends Heather and Drew. But that should be a great time, so no reason to complain there.

But, all you readers out there, if you would like to celebrate with me, you are welcome to come to The Blues City Deli on Thursday, November 20th, from 6 pm to 8 pm to get yourself some good food, good beer, and listen to some good music as The Rum Drum Ramblers take the stage.

Hope to see you there! Blues City is kind of a small space, so get there early and often. Er...or, just...get there early?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Secret Blogging

I am sitting in class and blogging.

Don't worry, it's part of class. Sort of. We're creating web pages and we have to link from our fake notepad html pages to real webpages, so I chose my blog. Pretty self serving, eh?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suggest Away

Blah blah throwing out the list I made Monday blah blah blah.

Okay, to recap:

Give me a character.

Give me a situation for that character.

Tell me if you want a short story or a play (or if you can think of some other way to frame my narrative structure, but no Epic Poems).


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Never Mind That Blogapaloza List

No video blog, I just didn't have the time. Let me instead tell you about my softball team.

Know Skills is our name, and we are terrible. In our inaugural season, we achieved a record of 1-9, with two shut-outs and seven losses by more than fifteen runs. This season, we have fared littled better. We've got a record right now of 1-8, with one more game left. Granted, we have only been shut out once.

Last Sunday, I took a ground ball off my right middle finger. Basically, I was going for the ball and it took two nasty hops; one on to my middle finger and the other off of my middle finger. At least the runner held at first, that was nice of him. But I hadn't yet been up to the plate, and two outs later when it was our turn to bat, I was first up. Now, I've had a pretty good season at the plate. I'm batting at least .500 (fairly easy in a rec league, I know, but when the team's average is something like .230, that makes me an all-star of sorts). In fact, in recent weeks, I've had an amazing run at the plate; the game before my middle finger injury, I went three for three with two RBIs, two singles and a double. Of course, we still lost. But it was a great game. So I stepped up to the plate this time, blood trickling out from under my fingernail (which is, now, all black at the top), and the first pitch is beautiful. That is my pitch. So I swing, and I'm way out in front of it and I know it, and I'm also subconsciously not holding the bat very well with my right hand because of the injury...and the ball trickles itself foul down the third base line. So I get back up to the plate, my finger is throbbing...and I hit it again, and again, it trickles down the third base line. But this time, it stays fair and I just freaking fly down the line to first. And somehow, I beat the throw. So my batting average doesn't take a hit (no pun intended), but the team remains the worst team in the league.

With that having been established, my boss, who put together the team, is finished and has declared the team as disbanded at the end of this season. But, the way I see it, maybe instead, we should find new owners and relocate. Like the Expos did. So, who wants to buy my softball team? We'll even switch leagues. Get us some new management, maybe a little talent from the minors, and we're ready for the championship! What do you think?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Excerpt Blogapalooza 2!

Alright gang, no intro. Check it!


from Novel, October 2008.

He arrived on a Friday night without warning, as I stood at my drafty picture window my wife has been dogging me to replace for months. He arrived in a red rusted Buick Regal, wearing a red rusted jacket and had a red rusted patch of hair on his chin. No bifurcated tail, no horns, no cleft hooves. His called himself Jamie and he promised everything with his smile before he even said a word. “I’m here to help you write your novel,” he said. I let him in after one knock and a brief introduction, even though I had work to do.

“Your wife is gone for the weekend, yes?” he asked. I cleared a space for him on the couch by moving my humming laptop.

“Yes.” I offered to take his jacket, but he declined. He pushed his brown-tinted sunglasses up his forehead and revealed burst blood vessels in the whites of his eyes.

He smiled at me staring at him, and I stared at him smiling at me for a minute. “Well,” he finally broke the tension. “Why am I here?”

I sat on the rug. “You came here.”

He nodded. “How about a drink?” And without a word he had moved around the corner to the kitchen. I could hear the clink of bottles and he came back through the dining room bearing two pint glasses of my beer. I stood and he handed me a drink. “To Labor Day Weekend,” he said. His sunglasses slid back down over his eyes as he knocked his glass into mine. He took a long drink. It was almost midnight. I told him this. “So you should get started soon. That’s why I’m here.”

“No,” I said. “No, that’s not…I’m supposed to write it on my own. You should go.” I sat down on the couch with the beer in my hand.

“It’s impolite not to drink when somebody makes a toast,” he said. I took a sip. It was cold and I could taste the hops and I knew he had searched through my refrigerator for my good expensive beer, which he was now chugging like Pabst. “You’re supposed to write it on your own. A whole novel. Three days.”

I nodded. He stood there watching me, so I set my beer on the floor and pulled the computer onto my lap. “See?” I said, pulling up the relevant information. “See?” I pointed to the contest rules. I had signed up to write it alone.

He smiled. “You need me.”

“I don’t,” I said, simply. “Anyway, please leave. It’s midnight now. I can start.”

He walked back to the kitchen and returned with another beer. “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” he said, pouring the beer down his throat.

Marathon writing is not good for mind, body, or soul. It bends each in ways it was not meant to be. But what I discovered with Jamie watching every word I typed was that one thing more torturous than writing non stop for three days straight, and that is not being able to write at all for those three days.

By Saturday morning I had typed a gross of thirty pages. But Jamie made me self-conscious of every letter that appeared on my computer screen. I had only netted six pages. I would type a word and he would snicker, a sentence and he would laugh. With each page he let forth a volcano of guffawing. “What’s so mother fucking funny?” I kept asking. He only answered with his bloodshot eyes.

I slept through most of Saturday afternoon and when I woke up, Jamie was where I had left him; beer in hand at the dining room table reading a stack of books he had pulled from my shelf. The stack on his left had shrunk considerably while the stack on his right had toppled under haphazard construction practices. “This is maybe what you should have been doing all summer,” he said into his pint glass. “Instead of whatever it is you did do all summer.” He was still wearing his jacket, and unless he looked at me when he spoke, his eyes remained hidden behind the shades.

“It was wet,” I said. “The air conditioner was sliding down the hill. The retaining wall couldn’t wait.” I could taste sleep and stale beer in my mouth. When I sat down with my computer after two slices of toast, we resumed our dynamic. I wrote, he laughed.

I wasn’t sure if Jamie slept or not, because I never once saw him take a rest. As the weekend progressed into Sunday, his alcohol consumption dissipated as mine increased. He removed his sunglasses more often and his eyes became whiter each time. Sunday afternoon, I looked into the bathroom mirror and saw my eyes were now bright red, bloodshot, worse than Jamie’s had been when I first saw them. My reflection framed in the mirror, the stubble on my chin uneven and rough. I had twenty four pages. Unless I was writing, Jamie tore through more of my books, his sunglasses now sitting across the table from where he sat. On my way from the bathroom to the kitchen, I slipped my fingers around the glasses and put them over my eyes.


There ya go. Checked.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Two Weeks and One Day

We will soon know who will be our new president. The man who will, in theory, be at the helm of the country for the next four years at least. Possibly the next eight.

This is an important decision to make. I'm not going to launch into a partisan rant here, because the two folks running neck and neck (along with their running mates) are doing a good enough job of partisan politics.

Right, so what we're going to talk about now is voting. I got into a large discussion a couple weeks ago. Like, right before class started on a Tuesday afternoon. It was rather a lopsided argument, though, because, let's be honest, Webster University's student body is made up largely of Democrats, especially the farther you get from the business school. And both geographically and ideologically, you can't get further from the business school at Sverdrup than the English school in Pearson House. And it was lopsided because one girl said she was voting for McCain.

She got, to put it mildly, attacked. People actually started shouting at her. Nobody would let her talk. The teacher walked in and listened for a moment, and then interjected.

This particular teacher has not been politically vocal in the past, but that's not to say that as a student who has had her as a teacher before, I didn't have an inkling as to her political leanings. One of her best friends on the staff was, until he died this past summer, Art Sandler, who was very vocal against the war in Iraq and certain policies of the current administration. I've picked up some hints on her political leanings. But she interjected on behalf of the student who was unable to speak her piece.

The teacher asked, "Do you feel like you shouldn't have brought this up now? Because the rest of the class seems to be giving quite a display of disrespect." That shut everybody up.

That's when I asked, just generally, without a note of incredulity or anger in my voice, "So, what are your reasons for voting for McCain?"

It was the teacher that thanked me first. Then the girl explained that she had reviewed their tax plans. And she came to the conclusion that Obama's tax plan falls short, while McCain's has merits. At least, in her opinion. She said that on other issues, she actually agreed more with Obama, such as education, abortion/gay marriage (those get lumped together now under the Conservative "family values" political football that has replaced the rather one-dimensional "Roe v. Wade" political football), and foreign policy. But, she argued, the economy is the most important issue in this election. She also said that she doesn't agree with the perception that Democrats are better for the economy than Republicans.

I have to say that I was ready to let the issue rest. Because, let's face it, this person researched the candidates' stances on the issues that were important to her, and she came to a conclusion that she felt comfortable with. Which is exactly how I came to my decision. Which is exactly how everybody should make their decision.

But, of course, most of the other people in the class were not ready to let this girl get away with disagreeing with them.

Look: I don't really care who you vote for. I kind of care how you vote; do your research. Don't go to the politician's websites...go to factcheck.org, or other reputable non-partisan sources to find out for yourself. And if you do not have time, because I know not everybody does have time (well, first off, stop reading my blog and check now, and come back to my blog after the election), then do your best with the information you have.

Back to the point; just...get out and vote. It's your right and privelege. I won't say duty, because, well...I think I'd rather somebody not vote if they're not educated on the issues. It's a right and a privelege. The end.

Fun facts of the day:

Obama is NOT a Muslim, or the Anti-Christ.

Neither is McCain.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Coming Soon: Blogapalooza 2

I am on Fall Break.

I am taking today and Sunday to wind down a bit. Starting Monday, we've got a week of blogging. Here's the schedule:

Monday: Politics

Tuesday: Excerpt

Wednesday: Video Blog

Thursday: Personal Update and ask for Free Write Friday suggestions

Friday: Free Write

Saturday: Your Questions

Sunday: First half of semester re-cap, Fall Break Wrap up and second-half of semester preview

So you've all got that to look forward to. Yay!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ressurection: Your Questions Answered, Volume 6

From Your Questions Answered, Volume 5, November 4 2007:

Molly asked:
Where did I go wrong?

Come on, Mom...like I'm going to answer this publicly?

From The Story Behind the Madness, November 13 2007

alf asked:
Did you get an extended warranty on this one as well?

Nope...and I haven't needed it. I think I'm being more careful with this one.

Gerald asked:
Did someone say apple?

Because the old one was a Sony, this one had to be a Sony, too.

From Well…, November 15 2007

Becca asked:
You’re going to MN for thanksgiving?

I did, in fact, go to MN for Thanksgiving.

From Lord I Was Born A Ramblin’ Man…, November 20 2007

alf asked:
It’s the little things, right?


Lisa asked:
If you’re fat, what am I?

No comment, that's what.

From I Promise a Real Update Soon…, December 13 2007

Becca asked:
Hey, when do you find out about the results of the 3 day novel contest? It's coming up soon, correct?

I didn't win. And it was coming up soon.

From Year End Roundup…Coming Soon…, December 28 2007

Annie asked:
Uh, hi?
If the U.S. is ready for it and that is the candidate that has proven themselves qualified and able, what kind of statement would this country be making if they put another white male in just 'cause someone on the other side of the world thinks it's okay to beat up blacks or demand a sandwich from their wives?

I think the real question should be, if the world's not ready for the US to have a black president, what's with South Africa? If the world's not ready for the US to have a female head of state, what's with Margaret Thatcher? I think whoever said this just didn't want a black person or a woman to win. And shame on them for that.

Lisa asked:
If you want big ears, do you think Prince Charles would consider presidential candidacy?? ;)

He's not exactly eligible, being a British citizen and royalty and all. And really, it's not the big ears I like about Dennis Kucinich.

Becca asked:
What about Pippin?

Excuse me?

What is this b.s. about whether or not the world is ready for a black man or a woman (who cares what colour she is. Hell, I think purple would be nice) to be the leader of the US?

See above.

You know what the rest of the world will say?

"About Bloody Time!"

er, far Pacific?

er, what?

From Why I Haven’t Been Blogging, January 4 2008:

marty/bridget asked:
did you see the group of writers on letterman delivering the top ten demands of the striking writers?

Yes. It was hilarous. All those long months ago.

From More on the Strike, January 9 2008:

Gerald asked:


Marty/bridget asked:
what...no wedding beard...no funeral beard...what's with this guy?

Um...you'd have to ask him.

Becca asked:
Elliot, have you ever heard of Movember?

No, but I bet you're going to tell me about it now!

Wait - can I say the word 'pubes' on a blog?

I think you just did. Twice.

From Post 130, January 14 2008

Molly asked:
How did you get so wise?

Brain implants.

Mcgrath asked:
Maybe you could submit the blog for the 2007 365 day blog writer?

But then I would have to have blogged more consistently. Yes?

From In Response to the Most Recent poll on my blog, January 31 2008

Molly asked:
where is the Obama Rally being held this Saturday night? and what time?

Oh man, this was so long ago...

And Who is Jerry anyway?

a friend of mine from Target.

Jerry asked:
wait. are you under water yourself during the weaving?

As I understand it, yes. You take scuba diving first as a prerequisite (or present your certification to the instructor) and then you weave.

From An Announcement, February 2 2008

Becca asked:
How about your policies for how foreigner's are treated in airports?

No more airports. We're taking trains everywhere from now on. Or boats.

Marty/bridget asked:
what's up with that?

With what?

Lisa asked:
got a running mate?

Gerald has not yet committed. So no, but I want you to be my speech writer.

From Addressing the Issues, February 3 2008

Annie asked:
Can I be VP?

If Gerald says no, yes.

From Further Policy Information, February 5 2008

Annie asked:
Do you remember in the 04 debates when John Kerry explained in his personal life he was pro-life but in his political life he was pro-choice and after the debates a plethora of people proclaimed they didn't understand Kerry's stance on abortion?

Yes. Yes I do.

Molly asked:
dare I use the V word?... in your values?


What more could a mother ask for?

A massage and a drink. Every night.

Anybody have any suggestions for a label for me?

[evil cackling]

did I really just ask people to suggest a label for me on a blog site?

Yes. Yes you did.

Mgk asked:
Don't you have homework? and a job?

I think it's pretty obvious that I don't.

From The Unfinished (and also unstarted) Play, February 9 2008:

Marty/bridget asked:
have you seen "great moments in presidential speeches" on letterman?

Yes. I love me some Letterman.

From Laying it On the Line, February 27 2008

Marty/bridget asked:
how's the play coming along? do we get a sneek preview?

It's done. And it already happened. And I posted the video.

From Surfacing Update and a New link, March 1 2008

Annie asked:
You only had TEN people show up for auditions?

Sad, right?

From You Think You know Webster University, March 14 2008:

Molly asked:
But then, maybe they're not there anymore??

They are. There are less of them.

I wonder whose backyard they ended up in?

They just got removed.

Has anyone checked the Roundy’s backyard?

Probably the Roundys did before they moved.

Annie asked:
And... do people really do ANYTHING in "the quad?"

Yes. They shoot films for Intro to Media Production, play frisbee and the Jockocracy plays football.

Becca asked:
Have you been reading my blog yet?


Christopher G asked:
Going from Edwyn McCain to The Roots?


From An update, April 1 2008

Molly asked:
How in god's name did you get this way?

You raised me.

Annie asked:
Now, is John Richter really not in your plan?

He really was not in my play. He was supposed to be, but the director never told him he was, and then she quit. Oh well. Life went on.

From We Are (Almost) Back in Business, May 13 2008:

Becca asked:
But Fiona Apple...??? Did you mean Ani Difranco?

Fine, whatever. Ani, Apple, it's relatively all the same.

From In Time for my Sesquicentennial Post…, May 15 2008:

Molly asked:
Who did you model her character after?

Stereotypes. And Grandma.

From Giving up the…Golf?, May 27 2008

Molly asked:
What I want to know is, how good of a golfer was he anyway?

Who cares?

mGk asked:
What would all my country club buddies think?

Umm...you mean the ones you used to see when you took the girls you nannied for to their country club? Or that group of friends we had in high school who all worked at the country club?

From Return of the Blog Guy, June 23 2008:

Molly asked:

Why not?

Marty/bridget asked:
here's a question for you...why is it that i cannot leave your blog by hitting the back arrow?

Why are you leaving my blog, anyway?

From An Open Letter to the Theater-Going Public of St. Louis, June 25 2008:

Bridget asked:
jeez elliot...don't you know those 9-to-5-ers have a long drive home?

Don't they know how rude they are?

Annie asked:
Don't people understand it's not like leaving a baseball game in the 8th?

How must those ball players feel during that 8th inning mass exodus...I mean, it's like they're only at the game for the overpriced beer.

Becca asked:
people left early? Was it bad or something? Maybe they had to get home to watch something supremely more entertaining on TV?

Yes. This is apparently a St. Louis tradition.

From Tuesday Excerpt, and an Apology, July 1 2008:

Molly asked:
Remind us of the info you want for free write Fridays... is it Character Name, age, gender, situation? Or... what?

Character, situation, and fiction/play.

From Strictly Enforced, July 3 2008:

Becca asked:
WAit... Are you saying you pluck your eyebrow??

No. I manscape with wax.

Molly asked:
Lord... she was waxing while driving!?

To be fair, she was stopped at a light.

From Time Got Away From Me, July 12 2008:

Becca asked:
Was your grandma's name Opal, btw?

Just Opal. Not Opal BTW.

Well, did you see the photo I found for MY first name?

Yes. Yes I did.

mGk asked:
Ok, not even a reference to where you got this glorious idea?


From A Late Tuesday Excerpt, July 15 2008:

Bridget asked:
what'dya think?

About what?

From I Know It’s Been Two Weeks, But…, July 29 2008:

Molly asked:
What do I get if I sign it?

You get to participate in a Democracy.

From Signs that the Housing Market is Worse than you thought…, July 29 2008:

Molly asked:
When does school start?

It started.

mGk asked:
When will the insanity end?

Which insanity do you mean? The economy, or mine?

Themurderhour asked:
Isn’t that a Maine Prison property?

It, in fact, is.

From mGk Threw Down Two Gauntlets…, July 31 2008

Gerald asked:
That's a bad habit? Where else are you supposed to put them?

When you get married, it turns into a bad habit. I guess you're supposed to put them some place out of the way.

How did they manage to get your respect in the first place?

With a little tune called "Dream On."

Sorry To Let You Down...and Tuesday Excerpt...and Promise of a New Feature, August 19 2008

Lisa asked:
What happens on the date... come on?!?!?!

No, see, you missed the point...you have to infer what happens on the date. The conflict is that here's Quentin, trying to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, with whom he is still secretly in love, and here come his best friends Colin and Amy to throw a funeral for the ex, because they know he's not over her and want him to move on, but of course they are unaware that she is coming over. And hilarity is supposed to then ensue. You're not supposed to be ?!?!?! level curious about what happens next.

From Video Blog-Olympics, Procrastination, and the Running Mate Text Message, August 20 2008:

Bridget asked:
Who’s Michael Phelps?

Some guy who broke some sort of record or something.

From The Importance of M... September 6 2008:

Bridget asked:
Why don't you close the garage door?

I guess I forgot to mention that we had a quarter-ton iron sink that we were trying to sell, and I didn't want to drag that out of the garage unless I knew it was going to be sold. But I wanted people to be able to see it. That's why.

Well, folks, there you go. Not exactly a substantive blog, but it's long. You gotta give me that one.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Importance of the M. And Hemingway. And a note on Garage Sales.

Whenever I put my name on something, I always use my middle initial. There is a reason for this.

You see, I feel that the sum of all of one's origins, roots, and experiences is what makes that person who he or she is. So that means that you are who you are because of what happened that first day of high school, that last day of Kindergarten, your mixed heritage background, your Catholic mother and Buddhist father.

So even though my last name is a good solid German last name, and my father's family was likely 100% German (although to hear my grandmother tell it, she was German/French/Native American/Peruvian/Mexican/Estonian and, yes, even a little Asian and Black), I can't negate the fact that my mother's family is equally 100% Irish (aside from the Look of the Spaniard we've all got about us; the whole Spanish Armada/Iberian Myth thing which makes me Black Irish). So, not only do I have a solid German last name, I've got an equally if not even more solid Irish middle name. So I can't ignore it. Hence everything I write, and every time I sign my name, the M gets thrown in the middle.

Now some may ask (and some have asked) why I don't do the whole middle name. Well...it just takes up too much room. I mean, my first name already has six letters in it. Then there's eight for my last name. I don't really have room for seven more letters. All of a sudden, I'm taking up way too much room.

So the M is a compromise. It's a nod to where I've come from. To people who have supported me. To the grandfather I never met but whom I resemble (maybe I'll post a side-by-side some day, if I think of it). The M completes me. When I put the M, that means you're getting the whole of me.

From the whole of me, I go to the tip of the iceberg. Namely, Hemingway.

Have you ever read any Hemingway? I mean, really read it? If not, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of The Nick Adams Stories. Not only for your reading pleasure, but also for an introduction to Hemingway himself. The stories were written throughout his career, at different times and out of sequence. But when strung together they tell the story of Nick Adams, one of Hemingway's alter egos, from a young boy to a former WWI soldier. He writes stories about childhood, the war, fishing. The fishing stories are amazing, especially "Big Two-Hearted River." Think of it as a metaphor for writing and it becomes even more amazing. When you're done with that, pick up The Sun Also Rises for some of the best dialogue ever published.

Okay, and finally, this is kind of like an open letter to the Garage Sale crowd...if you're at a garage sale, please keep this in mind; if it doesn't have a price tag on it, it's probably not for sale. If all the stuff in front of the garage has price tags on it, and there's a table in the entrance to the garage that is hard to get around to get into the garage, where there are no price tags, it's likely that nothing in the garage is for sale. So, basically, take a look at the computer monitor and the bedframe and the light table and the ping-pong table outside the garage, but take your eyes off my lawnmower and don't ask me how much for my bicycle. It's NOT FOR SALE. That's why it's BEHIND ME IN THE GARAGE and DOES NOT HAVE A PRICE TAG. And even though the card table is sitting outside the garage, that's so I have some place to sit. It's not for sale either. And neither is my laptop. It's mine. Not for sale. No price tag. And I'm using it. Do you see me using the ping-pong table? No. That's because it's for sale. Do you see me reading those books over there? No. That's because they're for sale. The copy of The Sun Also Rises that I'm reading? Not for sale. The computer? NOT FOR SALE. Now go away.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sorry To Let You Down...and Tuesday Excerpt...and Promise of a New Feature

Elliot = Bad Blogger.

And now, for my Tuesday Excerpt.

After the ban on posting my Three Day Novel lifted, I didn't post it. And I'm not going to do so, now, because I'm going to do something else.

I turned a chapter into a play, and the play can sort of stand on its own while the chapter really can't. So I'm posting the play. Which is awesome. So here goes.


The Funeral Dinner, September 2007

Quentin, 26, eager and bright eyed
Colin, 27, the solemn type
Amy, 28, also solemn
Meredith, 24, Quentin’s ex with whom he is reconnecting

Scene opens on a small, cramped apartment. QUENTIN is cooking a dinner in the kitchen, upstage right. Upstage center, there is a living room set up, with a television, coffee table, sofa, stereo, bookshelf, and a desk with a computer. Directly downstage from the kitchen is a small dining room table set up. There is a door leading off stage left to the bedroom, another stage right that is the entrance to the apartment. There is a large window with open shades next to this door, through which light is streaming. Quentin is wearing a yellow dress shirt, a pair of dark khaki pants and brown shoes. There is light music playing.

Add the cilantro, and, there! Should be done!
(he stirs the pot and puts the lid on it)
(he searches the apartment for candles, which he finds on the bookshelf in a set of glass candlesticks. he sets these on the table)
Everything is set. Any minute now...
(there is a knock on the door)
(he picks up a bottle of cologne and sprays his neck and wrists)
(he puts the cologne on the bookshelf behind a picture frame and goes to open the door)
Hell...oh, what are you two doing here?
(Colin and Amy are standing at the door, carrying plastic shopping bags, Colin in dark pants and a white dress shirt, Amy in a black skirt and dark pink blouse)

This is an intervention of sorts. Let us in.
(the two visitors push past Quentin)

(looking around)
Oh my God, Quentin...did you actually clean your apartment?
(she sniffs the air)
And are you cooking chili?

(shutting the door and rushing to stand between the two visitors)
Yes. And yes. What do you want? And make it quick, please I have plans to...um...eat alone, tonight. Yeah. Alone.

(looking around the place)
Dressed like that? And listening to “The Postal Service?”

Yes. Yes, really. What is this about?

What’s all this about?
(looks at candlesticks on the table)
You didn’t get back together with Kristen did you?

No, not at...no. Absolutely...no. Never. It’s nothing. I just wanted to...treat myself to a nice evening.

Good, well, you’re dressed nice, we were going to force you into some nice clothes anyway. Amy, let’s set up, shall we?
(Colin and Amy begin taking items out of their shopping bags, Colin producing a shoe box painted brown and a stack of photographs, Amy a handful of votive candles in plastic holders. Colin places the box on the coffee table)

Is it okay, Quentin, if I just light these candles on the dinner table? That way I have more for the coffee table.
(she sets candles on every available surface, including creating a ring on the coffee table and two taller pillar candles on each side of the top of the television)
You have matches, right?
(she heads into the kitchen and begins searching)
This chili smells fantastic, Quentin.

This music has to go.
(he presses stop on the stereo, pulls out the CD and puts in a CD he drew from his bag, and the apartment is filled with the opening strains of Carmina Burana)
Carl Orf. This is a nice compilation of some good requiem music.

(walking up to Quentin, who has been watching each of them with surprise and alarm mounting on his face)
This is the most recent picture we could find of Meredith.
(she hands him a framed picture)
I know it’s about four years old, and yeah, she’s dressed kinda goofy, but she’s having a good time at the State Fair, it’s a good way to remember her.

What the hell are you talking about?

I’ll take care of this.
(she takes the picture and puts it between the pillar candles on top of the television)

Of course, Amy, if you would?
(Colin shuts the shades on the window as Amy cuts the lights and strikes a match, lighting the candles)
(stands right beside him, puts a hand on his shoulder)
It’s a time for grief, but also a time for growth and healing, my son. Shall we begin, Amy?

Okay, seriously, you both have to leave right now.

Quentin, please...take a seat.
(she has finished lighting the candles, and escorts him to sit on the couch)

(he has put on a dark suit jacket and a pair of reading glasses)
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the symbolic passing of Meredith Katherine Wallace.

What the hell?

Quentin, sh, please.

Meredith was a good woman, full of life and spirit, and served the children of the Minneapolis Public School System as a student teacher for a year, before moving on to become a full time instructor and guide for the young minds of the Duluth Public Schools. We now commit our memories of her to their final resting place, inside this, er, casket, and eventually, um, outside in that park across the street, underneath a magnolia tree, which I’m pretty sure she’d find a relaxing place to be.
I would now like to invite those of you who knew her best to please step up and say a few words about her.
(stands aside; there is much pushing and prodding on the couch)

(standing up)
Well, I would like to say a few words, thank you, Reverend.


Ew, I sleep with you.


Yeah, they can be married.

Good GOD what have I done to deserve this?

Quentin, sh, please.

I only met Meredith once, at a Violent Femmes and Afghan Whigs concert for which she didn’t stay to see the second half. I understood, as it takes a certain kind of person to like the Afghan Whigs, and their particular brand of post-punk pop-rock music is not for everybody.
But she and I will always have the handshake outside of First Avenue, and I’ll never forget how much I wanted that pleated peasant skirt she was wearing that night. I wish I had told her that now, especially because she asked me where I got my jeans and I told her. For all I know, she owns a pair of those jeans, and I have never been able to find a skirt like that one anywhere.
Meredith, you will be missed.
(she kisses her hand and touches it to the “casket” on the coffee table)

Thank you, Amy. That was very sweet. Anyone else?
(Amy sits down next to Quentin, who merely crosses his arms and shakes his head)
Well, if nobody minds, I would like to say a few words.
Quentin, you have suffered much from the loss of Meredith, but I urge you to remember her as she was, three years ago, when you were in love. Think of that person, and ask yourself; “what would she say if she could see me suffer?” I believe she would say, “Let me go, Quentin. Let me be at peace, so you can be at peace as well.” So please, my friend...
...be at peace.
(bows his head, turns to face the picture of Meredith atop the television)
Be at peace.
(faces Quentin again, his face grave and solemn as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings plays)
Be at peace.

Well, okay, Colin, Amy, thank you for that, really, great stuff but you have to leave right now. Like, right now.
(there is a knock on the door, which was not closed all the way and therefore swings open, revealing Meredith standing there in a white pleated floor length peasant skirt and a purple tank top)

Am I interrupting something?
(the men are frozen, staring at each other)

(getting up and running to Meredith’s side)
Where did you get that skirt?

This is kind of embarrassing, huh?
(grabs the picture of Meredith from the top of the television and hides it)

Um...thrift shop? Quentin? Are they staying for dinner? Please say no.

No, they’re just leaving. Right Colin, Amy?
(both slowly stir)

Right, should...Quentin, everything’s...you’ll get the, um...candles back to me?


I love that skirt, Meredith, love it.

(Amy and Colin exit, but Amy comes back)

Quentin, I’ve been meaning to ask you for your chili recipe...

(mock cheerful)
Take a pound of beef and three whole tomatoes and GET OUT!
(she exits)


And now to introduce the possibility of a new feature; Video Blogging. Now, it won't be a really regular feature, I don't think. But it should be fun to give it a try. I was hoping to do a little bit tonight, but it's not looking promising. But still, maybe...

It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write. -Sinclair Lewis

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Plug, Link, *Beep*

Alright, I have been an assuredly terrible blogger this summer. It's been crazy, I've had probably the most adult-grown-up summer I've ever had, with doing the retaining wall project, working full time and staying late several days to relieve the next day's potential headache...it's been weird. I'm all responsible and stuff. I'm not sure I particularly like this trend, but, hey, that's life. Hopefully soon I'll catch some kind of break and be able to just write write write without any other care (other than, you know, all the other grown up stuff).

With that in mind, though, a friend of mine from Webster who graduated last year, is quite a talented writer and is hoping to become a television writer at some point. He's well on his way, I think. First, check out his Youtube Page. Be especially sure to check out The Life and Times of Jeremy Updike. It's one episode of a TV show he worked on that kind of fizzled out when the school's TV station turned out to be really kind of a dud. After you've checked that out, check out his New Show. It's called The Lou (he's got a promo set up on his youtube page, but the show is at iClips because he can get better video quality). If you like Arrested Development, or The Office, or Thirty Rock...you know, that kind of new documentary-esque episodic story-arc comedy stuff...you will enjoy The Lou. It kind of pokes fun at One Tree Hill, The O.C. (don't call it that) and other similar shows. Totally worth it.

Also, I am introducing a new link. My friend Lisa lives in Minnesota, is dating my friend Chris and is active in the theater scene in the Twin Cities. And for some reason, I just now tonight found out she's got a blog. Go figure. Well, check it out. It's on WordPress, which is all way wonkier than Blogger, but to each his or her own, right?

Okay. I won't make any promises. I just can't, it seems. But I will try to have something new up soon. Look for maybe like a new poll or something to keep you interested.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

mGk Threw Down Two Gauntlets. I Only Picked One Up.

100 things you may or may not know about me:

1. The biggest deterrent to me learning to drive a stick was the car my mom owned at the time I was learning to drive.
2. I eventually wrecked that car.
3. I subsequently put a dent in the bumper of her next car.
4. I still feel terrible about both of those things.
5. If I had cable, I would probably never stop watching crap.
6. I wish I could go back in time to the 1904 World's Fair.
7. I'd really miss internet and air conditioning if I did go back in time.
8. I'm a better hitter and fielder now than I was when I actually played baseball on a team.
9. If it hadn't been for Will Wilcox and John Whalen, I would have quit baseball forever after fifth grade.
10. I don't have a tattoo.
11. I know right where I'd put one if I got one.
12. I don't know what I'd get.
13. Eighteen year-old Elliot could play drums ten times better than twenty-five year old Elliot.
14. I wish that weren't true.
15. I love Acrodyl (my cat) more than Ricky (the cat I grew up with).
16. I feel incredibly guilty about that.
17. Ricky died while I was at school in Minnesota.
18. I can't remember the last thing I said to him.
19. I still have dreams that he's not dead, and that he finally comes home.
20. I've gained twenty-three pounds in a year.
21. They're not the good kind.
22. I always start on the left foot and end on the right foot.
23. I wish I knew how to tap dance.
24. I'm amazed every day Kathy puts up with me.
25. I wish I had gone straight to Webster U right out of high school.
26. But then I never would have met Kathy.
27. I play guitar.
28. I only know about three songs.
29. One of them is "Stairway to Heaven"
30. I love riding my bicycle.
31. I haven't really ridden my bicycle in over a year.
32. I keep justifying spending money on the bicycle in the hopes it will get me to ride more.
33. I know it should work the other way around.
34. If I get nudged/jostled/poked or in any other way called to attention in that twilight just-before-sleep stage, it will take me three hours to fall back to sleep.
35. My work cell phone has the only alarm clock noise that's ever been able to consistently wake me up.
36. I know I don't write enough.
37. I don't really have anybody I call to go hang out with anymore.
38. Considering we don't have cable, we have a really nice gigantic television.
39. My favorite t-shirt when I was 10 looked like a dress on me.
40. My favorite t-shirt when I was 18 was tight accross the chest and sleeves.
41. They were the same shirt.
42. I wish I had met Douglas Adams before he died.
43. In my imagination, he would love that he's number 42 on my list.
44. I have one sister.
45. I hated my sister when I was in middle school and she was in high school.
46. She was a senior when I was a freshman.
47. She was one of my best friends that first year of high school.
48. She still is one of my best friends.
49. I have four nieces and two nephews.
50. I feel guilty that I have a favorite.
51. I hate that I haven't graduated college yet.
52. I think that being an older student makes me a better student.
53. My wife cuts my hair.
54. Yesterday I thought she was going to intentionally cut it badly.
55. I am impossible to play board games with one on one.
56. Especially if I am losing.
57. I ruined one of her favorite childhood board games yesterday.
58. I can't believe that good looking retaining wall in the backyard was built by me and my family.
59. I have a bad habit of leaving my shoes in the middle of the floor.
60. I always push my chairs in at work.
61. I hardly ever push my chairs in at home.
62. I still have dreams that I work at Target.
63. Those are my second-least favorite dreams.
64. My least favorite dreams are about remembering a class I've been skipping all semester on the last day before finals.
65. I know that stems from the way I approached my first foray into college life.
66. Green is my favorite color.
67. I have lost all respect for Aerosmith.
68. My legs and torso are not proportionate to each other.
69. I still laugh at stupid juvenile things (like the number 69).
70. There's a dream catcher in my bedroom.
71. I get mad at it when it doesn't work.
72. If I lived alone, I know I would drink quite a bit more.
73. I thank my lucky stars I do not live alone.
74. But I won't turn down a 7 & 7.
75. I am a beer snob.
76. By which I mean, Budweiser is not real beer.
77. But I still was opposed to In-Bev's takeover of A-B.
78. I love the fall.
79. When I worked in retail, I hated Christmas.
80. I've celebrated it twice since leaving retail.
81. It's only been one year since I left retail.
82. Christmas in July rocks.
83. I am a night person.
84. I drink way too much Coca-Cola.
85. I've only ever left the country once.
86. I spent a week in London with my high school band and choir.
87. I had the perfect opportunity to sneak off and get a pint of Guinness.
88. I couldn't, because I had left my passport at the hotel.
89. There's little in the world better than a good book.
90. Except for a hot woman reading a good book.
91. Kathy is currently reading All the King's Men
92. That's not just a good book, it's a great book.
93. I've been pulled over four times for having a headlight out.
94. I know I could swing dance if I just did it more often.
95. In fourth grade, I was convinced I would become a starship pilot when I got older.
96. I still haven't really let that dream go.
97. I once pulled a bicycle, two water bottles, a bike pump and a cyclo computer out of poison ivy without realizing it was poison ivy.
98. I didn't get a rash or anything.
99. Pictures exist of me wearing a blue dress.
100. I was two years old at the time.

Your turn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Signs The Housing Market is Worse Than You Thought...

This is ridiculous! We need to do something! Even the smaller houses that should be relatively affordable and safe are sitting empty! What can be done?

Seriously, this is really lowering the property values around here!

I know it's been two weeks, but...

I need your help. Please follow this link and sign the petition to impeach President Bush. You don't have to agree with everthing Dennis Kucinich stands for, but think hard about what the current administration has done in the seven years they've been in place. The abuses of executive power, the lack of respect for the constitution. Do it. And then I promise more diligent blogging.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Late Tuesday Excerpt

Kind of late, I know. But you're getting an interesting treat tonight with it. See, normally with a Tuesday Excerpt you get a short bit from a longer piece. But tonight, what you're getting is something else.

Writing is much like any other art (painting, composing, sculpting) in that sometimes the artist has a few false starts before finding a groove. Bearing that in mind, for every story I finish you can safely guess that there were three more started. So what do I do with those three unfinished stories? Well, sometimes they just sit forever, and I find them later and read what I've got and decide it's terrible. Sometimes, I come back and say, "Hey, that's not bad." The only problem is that it's normally a long time before I come back, and it's hard to remember just where I was going to take the story.

So tonight, I'm sharing with you a selection of those false starts. Some have potential (a couple are already past ten pages), some are so so, and some are just terrible. What you may notice is a similarity in theme, or character or plot elements within these false starts, because what I am doing is fine-tuning an idea. Most of what you are seeing tonight eventually became one of two stories; "Special Detail" or "Momentum." There is also one thrown in about buying a used car that I really want to revisit now and try and tweak. So, without further explanation:


from an Untitled work, spring 2006

Michael would later reflect on his first job out of college, at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant at the Mall of America, and wonder if things wouldn’t have been better if he had just stayed there. Not even to advance in employment, from server to captain of servers, to assistant floor manager, to floor manager, and so on, but just to remain a server, and smile, and bring people shrimp cocktails, shrimp burgers, barbecued shrimp, and so on, and earn the tips that bought him the car that got him into so much trouble.

The mob. Don’t think it disappeared. It seems now to be a Hollywood legend, a thing of the past, romanticized to no end by names like Dean Martin, Al Pacino, and so forth. Guy Richie stylized the British mafia as nothing more than a bunch of blundering buffoons. We all had a good laugh, even me and Michael. Roommates, he and I, back at good the good old U of M. That’s what we like to call the University of Minnesota, but I suppose that’s what kids who go to University of Michigan call their school. We used to spend hours watching mafia movies. He and I went as gangsters one Halloween (that’s gangsters, not gangstas). He ended up one in real life. With a capitol G.

We lost touch for a few years out of school. I was dating this girl I met at graduation, and he was using his business accounting degree to sell plates of shrimp to tourists. We got together every once in a while, reminisced annually. Six years out of school, he found a real job at an architecture firm called Ellerbee-Beckett, as their Assistant Chief Executive Accountant in charge of Institutional Projects. Basically, this meant that he was in charge of the money being spent on building more ridiculously overpriced (and ridiculous looking) structures on the very college campus he said, on graduation day, “Man, I’ve had some great times here. I never want to leave.”

As a journalist, I should have caught on quicker, but I was blinded by his new apartment on our fifth annual catching-up-and-getting-smashed meeting. The drinks were free, the food was free, the limo was free. Everybody knew Fran Levinson owned that bar. Everybody was about to find out he owned Ellerbee-Beckett, too.

It would be almost another year before I found out Fran also owned Michael Rose.

“Colin Fairmount,” I answered my phone. It was Craig Jeffries, the editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. A man with a plan. A man with vision. A man who I had been trying to avoid because I didn’t have my story done.

“Fairmount.” He started every conversation with the last name of the person he was talking to.


from an unfinished work titled "In Which Colin, Fed Up With His VW, Buys A Used Car" spring 2006

“No, this one isn’t going to cut it,” he said, sizing up the out of place Skoda sitting on the Volkswagen dealer’s lot. The man helping him had a thick Germanic accent that Colin couldn’t quite wrap his head completely around. The man gestured at the automobile—for that is what it was, no odd Eastern-European model could rightly be called a ‘car’ in Colin’s mind—and looked helplessly at Colin.

“What, wrong kind of color?”

Colin regarded the color, something he had been trying to avoid since he first saw it; he had so far focused on the tires, the rims, the hubcaps, the logo on the grill, the bumper sticker which read “I’m not tailgating, I’m inspecting their—“ but was ripped off and so the punch-line was missing, anything but register the sickening day-glow orange paint with the equally eye-twisting fluorescent purple detail work. “The colors are awful,” he admitted. “But that’s not the problem.”

“Custom paint job. The man who trades this car, tells me so. Custom, he said. Premium. Cost him a lot. I gave him good deal on trade in. Do you have trade in?”

“My car,” Colin inserted a sigh here. “Is in Moline, Illinois.”

Three days earlier, on a routine trip to Racine, Wisconsin to visit a friend of his from college, Colin’s car had overheated in the middle of the night. “Your water pump went out,” the stranger on the phone from Middle-Of-Nowhere, Illinois told him the morning after this happened. “So you’re timing belt is, well, you got close to a hundred and fifty thousand miles on there, it was time for it to be replaced anyway.”

“I just got the timing belt replaced. The whole engine just got rebuilt. Why didn’t they tell me I needed a new water pump?”

There was a long intake of breath from the other end of the line. “Well, it’s cause they either got shit for brains,” here he paused, as if for dramatic effect. “Or your water pump looked fine. They’ll go out on you, all of a sudden. One minute pumping water like a heart pumping blood, next minute you’re on the side of the road.” He took a breath, and Colin sensed the man would go on and on if left to his own devices.

“How much to have it repaired?” he asked.

“Shoot, new timing belt and water pump for a V Dub? You want me to do it, you’re talking at least seven hundred parts and labor, maybe more. Not to mention I can’t start today, cause I ain’t even got the parts, gotta order them from Chicago.”

Colin stared out of his hotel room window, eyes unfocused and reliving the previous evening. The check engine light, the temperature gauge buried in the red, way too hot zone, the grinding noise as his engine died. Then the state trooper stopping and calling in the tow truck. The truck taking the car twelve miles in the wrong direction, while he and the state trooper followed. The state trooper being nice enough to drive him to the nearest hotel which happened to be sixty miles away, in Moline. His room, from a four story Howard Johnson or Red Roof or something along those lines, overlooked a plethora of car dealerships, the most prominent of which was a Volkswagen dealer. “Can’t you order them from the dealership in Moline?” To which the inevitable response was that no, he ordered all of his parts from his cousin’s automotive supply in Chicago.

And so Colin found himself at the odd dealership, talking to the odd man, looking at the odd car. “It’s a 1997 Jetta, and it’s in Moline with a broken water pump and a melted timing belt.” He looked again at the Skoda. “I hate this.”

“You take better care of your car, then these things happen, well, they won’t.” The man looked again at the Skoda. “It is good car, reliable. And only used car on lot. You want a new car?”

“No.” That was something Colin found odd, more odd than the mechanic not ordering the parts from Moline, and almost as odd as the Skoda itself; six car dealerships, and not one used car aside from this, for lack of a better term, thing. “How can this be the only used car you have?”

“We a giant sale are having, all of our used cars last weekend. Super Six-Hundred Sale. Once every few months. All dealers here, all owned by same man. He gather all used cars, sells them at the fairgrounds. This is all that’s left.” Colin peered into the interior and saw a yellow and black stripe pattern on the seats, gearshift and steering wheel.

“I wonder why.”


from an Untitled work, spring 2006


Every morning, when he stepped out of his room and into the hall, he gave a silent command to everybody; stay out of my way, and everything will be fine. He would never have hurt anybody, hadn’t done so off the lacrosse field and wasn’t going to start now. Actually backing up his mere presence with actions would have required more time than was given to him in a day, and that time was precious. Grades needed to be kept up to stay on the team. In the off season, trips to the gym needed to replace the rigorous practices he faced during the regular season.

He slept only four hours a night; classes began for him at eight every morning, even Fridays, and nobody else on his floor went to class on Fridays because they were on the Northeast end of campus, the school of design sector, and they never had classes on Fridays. Design students loaded their Tuesdays and Thursdays with gen-eds and took their color classes and computer animation courses on Mondays and Wednesdays, leaving Friday as an extra day of the weekend. He had deliberately chosen Pennington Hall because it was farthest from both the business college and the lacrosse field. He ignored the nearby gym, claiming the main student gym on the south side of campus was far superior. He didn’t know for sure, because he had never been to the gym attached to Pennington Hall. He ran to practice as a warm up. He rode his bicycle to class on days when it wasn’t raining. He had class until three every day, and returned to his dorm before doing anything else. Studying was done after working out.

He was glad his roommate had never shown up for school.


“Hey, guys, we have a floor meeting tonight in the lounge downstairs. I ordered some pizza, I’ve got some soda, we’re going to talk about this semester, okay?” His residents took no notice of him, on their way out. He continued walking to his room. Opening the door, he found underwear duct-taped to his ceiling. A note, hanging from a pair of gray boxer-briefs, read “Nate, you should have locked your room when you left. Call my room when you get back. Love, Brian.”

“Son of a bitch,” Nathan muttered, as he began pulling his underpants off the ceiling, standing on his tip-toes to reach them. Somebody knocked on his door, so he cleared his throat. “Just a second.” The situation was hopeless, he decided, so he stepped out of his room and into the hall and came face to face with Brandon.

Brandon was holding a piece of paper which he shoved in Nathan’s face. “What’s this?” It was a sheet of paper with a drawing of Bart Simpson and his friend Milhouse. Underneath their picture, in bold black letters, were the names “Brandon L.” and “Cameron S.”

“It’s your new Door Decoration. Everybody’s got new ones for the new semester.” Indeed, ever door had a similar piece of paper; Mike D. and Paul T. had a drawing of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Jeff S. and Jerry N. had Batman and Superman. Nathan himself had Huckleberry Hound.

“Okay, but what’s this?” Brandon pointed to the second name on his sheet of paper.

“Well, come to the meeting tonight at 7:30 in the downstairs lounge, and you’ll find out. Okay? And, pass the information along to any of the other guys you see, please?”

“Am I getting a roommate?”

“Come to the meeting.” Nathan tried to look intimidating, but as his head came to Brandon’s shoulders it was, he decided, probably less than impressive.

“I’ll be working out at 7:30.” Brandon walked away, bumping into Nathan’s shoulder as he passed him. Nathan watched Brandon as he strode down the hall, shoulders back, head high, effortlessly tall and intimidating.

“Shit.” Nathan muttered before returning to his room.


Cameron Sound walked into Pennington Hall with only his messenger bag. Everything else he intended to bring along to school was still at home, a mere seventeen miles away. He approached the front desk slowly, glancing around the room; the notice board still declaring that refrigerators must be unplugged over winter break. Dates were given for people driving home, along with destinations and invitations for anyone interested to split the cost of gas. He greeted the guy sitting behind the desk. “Hi, I’m supposed to be moving in here, how do I go about doing that?”

“Student ID?” the person asked. Cameron saw “Jake” on his nametag.

“Here you go, Jake.” Cameron said, handing him the fresh ID he had been given that morning; the shadows behind him in the picture gave the impression of a mullet. Jake checked a list he had sitting beside him on the desk, running down a column with his long, thin finger.

“Okay, Cam, you’re in room E434.” Jake swiped Cameron’s ID through a card reader mounted to the wall, pushed a button on the apparatus and slid it through again. “I just activated your card so it will open the front doors,” he pointed to the doors that were propped open at the moment. “And also the interior doors leading to the east and north wings.” He pointed to doors at opposite ends of the lobby. “Front door is unlocked between eight in the morning and four in the afternoon, but the interior doors are always locked, so don’t lose this.” Jake handed the ID back to Cameron.

“Which door is mine?”

“East Wing, that door there.” Jake pointed to the door closest to Cameron. A blonde girl in a ruffled skirt emerged from the door and looked at Cameron for a second before turning and exiting through the open front door. “Now, if you would just fill out this paperwork and I’ll get your key. Have you met your Resident Advisor yet?” Cameron admitted he had not, and Jake shook his head. “Sorry. You have to sign something for him before I can give you your key. I’ll give it to him next time I see him, or I can call and see if he’s in his room.” Jake handed Cameron a stack of paper Tolstoy would have been proud to turn out and vanished behind a partition.

Cameron began filling it out, sighing at each mention he encountered of “The University” because, he kept telling himself, he was finally moving on, finally getting away from high school. Finally, he was doing the right thing.

Jake came back and sat heavily in his chair. “Okay, your RA’s name is Nathan, and he’s having a floor meeting at 7:30 in the lounge.” Jake pointed at a room with windows all around it behind Cameron. “He says he’ll meet you there, is that okay?”

“Sure,” Cameron said. “Do you have a map of the campus? I’ll just walk around looking for my classes.”


“I’m getting a roommate, Emily. Can you believe it?” He ground his teeth into the phone.

“Well, yes, I can; I have three roommates and I live in what used to be the floor lounge. I never thought it was fair you had a double to yourself.”

“I’m not the only one; Rob down the hall has a double, and there’s only three guys in the quad on my floor. Why single me out?”

“It’s not a conspiracy against you, you know.”

“Yeah, well, it could be. I’m going to workout, will you meet me at the gym?” He moved himself to the edge of his bed and swung his legs down. They dangled in the empty space between the top and bottom bunks.

“No, we have a floor meeting tonight, discussing what we’re doing this semester or something.”

“I wonder why my advisor never does anything like that,” Brandon mused. “Okay, well, I’ll see you tomorrow. Did you get into the comp two class I’m in?”

“I’m not sure, I have to go talk to the teacher first day of class. Have a good workout.”

“Bye.” Brandon hung up the phone and dropped to the floor. His telephone, which he had sitting on his bed, took a fall behind him.

He turned and saw that the phone had been ruined when it fell. The earpiece had broken off, the keypad had come detached. It was an ancient phone he had taken from his parents’ basement before coming to college, and he was loath to shell out money to buy a new phone. “Damn it all, now I’ve got to go to the store tonight.”


from an Untitled work, spring 2006

After my last gas bill, I had turned off my heater and not turned it back on, so the early January cold intruded my space, nearly freezing my extremities every time I slept. I couldn’t wait to sleep in my old room, with Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins smiling at me from my wall.

The muted television displayed an image of the vice president. Headlines scrawled along the bottom of the screen. Flights cancelled, major universities shutting down campuses, traffic jams out of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago. Schaumburg was only about twenty miles from Evanston, but with a traffic jam, it was likely to take me two hours or more. My phone rang.

“This is Cameron Sound.”

“Honey, it’s your mother. Are you safe?” I glanced out my window at the Northwestern Campus, watching the cars as they periodically pulled out from the parking lot, driving somewhere imaginary that was safer than where they were.

“I’m fine, Mom.” Put up a defense, don’t seem too eager; it’s not your style to be agreeable. You are still rebelling, even though you’re twenty-one years old and should, by all rights, be an adult.

“Are you sure? I’m worried about you. Did you hear that the terror level was raised?” I closed my eyes. What was she doing right now? Multi-tasking for sure. Was she playing Solitaire on her computer? Was she preparing lunch? I heard my mother take a deep breath. Was she smoking again? I saw her chain smoking, sitting in the kitchen blowing the smoke out the window.

“I don’t live in a cave.” I picked at my sleeve. My cell phone rang, but I ignored it.

“Come home.”

My cell phone continued to ring even after I had left Evanston. The sound mixed with honking and the hum of my engine. I ignored it. It rang. I ignored it. It rang and rang. I finally picked it up and glanced at the number that was calling. It was just a number, nobody in my phone book, but it was somebody in Schaumburg. “I don’t know who you are,” I scolded the phone. “I’m not picking you up.”

I set my phone on the console, sliding it underneath the parking brake lever. The Volkswagen in front of me had Missouri license plates and was emitting a rhythmic thumping which shook my mirrors. My phone rang. I set my hand on the parking brake lever and put my thumb over the button. I clicked the button several times, then moved my hand to my gearshift and pushed it from neutral to third, second, first, neutral, first, neutral, and first one more time, before slowly letting the clutch out and pushing down on the gas. The tension of the clutch pushed my foot hard; I slid backwards a few feet before the clutch engaged and inched me forward. I rocked back and forth like this until the Volkswagen pulled ahead, and I followed.

“This is Cameron Sound,” I finally gave in to the phone. Silence. “This is Cameron Sound, hello?”

“Cameron.” The voice sounded nervous. It cleared it’s throat. “Cameron, it’s—it’s Amanda.”

The booming bass from the Volkswagen stopped. My engine ran silent. All I could hear was Amanda’s voice. “Amanda.”

I heard her sigh, saw her sigh, her lips parted, phone to her left ear, left elbow leaning on a table, right hand brushing her hair behind her right ear over and over. I pulled my car forward another car length. “I’m sorry to call you,” she explained. “I’m in trouble.”

What kind of trouble could she be in that it drove her to call me of all people? “Nothing is springing to my mind,” I said aloud.


“Nothing. What kind of trouble are you in?” The Volkswagen pulled ahead suddenly, and beyond it I saw traffic begin to flow at a quicker pace.

“Are you near home?”

“On my way,” I told her. “Leaving Evanston now. What kind of trouble are you in?”

“My flight got cancelled. Trains aren’t running, busses are running on a limited schedule and they’re all booked.” Where do I come in? “Listen, I called everybody, my mom can’t get away from work and my dad can’t get down here from Detroit, everybody else I know is in the same boat I am, nobody can head to Lawrence.”

Traffic was moving along well now, and I drove in silence for half a mile with the phone to my ear, listening to her breath on the other end.

“Cameron, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you, it was a last resort, and if you can’t take me, just say so.”

“You want me to take you to Lawrence?” Every time I had to shift, I took my right hand off the steering wheel and frantically pushed up a gear. This is a trick I used to find out if my wheels were properly aligned. I was in fourth gear now, and cruising well.

“You’re the only person who can help me. But you don’t have to.” I pushed into fifth gear, changed lanes and passed the Volkswagen, leaving the throbbing bass behind.

My mother was standing on the porch, waving and smiling and sending a thousand thank-yous heavenward for my safe arrival. I smelled charred wood and vegetable soup simmering on the stove. “I’m not staying,” I told her right away. “I’m sorry.”

“Why not? You’re not going back into the city are you?” She absent-mindedly took a cigarette from a silver case she kept in her pocket and stuck it in her mouth, lighting it with a souvenir Hard Rock Café Zippo. I stared at her.

“Where’s Dad, Mom?” I dropped my laptop bag to the floor with a thud. She took a drag and walked to the cold fireplace, reaching in and opening the floo and blowing the smoke at the burnt wood in the grate.

“He’s at the grocery store. When I told him you were coming home, he went out to buy a case of beer. Whatever that beer is you always ask for.” She flicked the ashes into the fireplace and looked at me.

“Does he know you started smoking again?” She looked at her cigarette, eyelids drawing slowly up, up, revealing the whites of her eyes in sharper and sharper detail. She took a quick puff and smiled at me.

“Stressful day, you know how it is.”

“Must be. Stressful enough to sift through all those boxes of crap in the basement and find your lighter and cigarette flask.” I walked to the bathroom. When I came out, she had thrown her cigarette into the fireplace and was preparing a fire. “Disposing of the evidence?”

“Don’t start. Why aren’t you staying?” She lit the fire starter and stood. “Make sure the fire catches while I go check on the soup.” My mother was like a cigarette herself, leaving me breathless and winded.

“No, I’m not staying. I’m taking Amanda to school.”

I watched the fireplace, the flames licking the stack of wood. “You’re taking Amanda to school?” I could smell the smoke from her clothes as she walked closer to me. “Are you two back together?” Of course not. We broke up two years ago and that was it. I didn’t answer her.

“I’m doing her a favor; she’s got to be back before class starts Thursday.”

“And you’re just going to take a couple of days to drive a girl you barely ever talk to halfway across the country?”

“You smell like cigarettes. I love you.”

She lived in one of those subdivisions which have only six houses repeated a hundred times, each off-white with a brick façade around the door. Amanda’s house had been repainted a soothing baby blue since the last time I saw it. I rang the bell and held my breath as the door opened. “Could you take this?” She shoved a suitcase at me.

“Nice to see you, Amanda.” I opened my trunk and moved my junk around to make room for her suitcase which I assumed contained her entire wardrobe. With a thud behind me, I realized I had been wrong. “Got enough clothes?”

“I didn’t pack the sweater you gave me for my seventeenth birthday,” she explained. “So yes, I have just enough clothes.” This remark was followed by a short lived smirk, which was replaced with a look of disgust. “I’m sorry, that’s really mean of me. I should be more grateful. Thank you for doing this, Cameron.”

She stood, facing me, her hair falling like a black curtain over her forehead and eyes. She wore a long sleeve white shirt underneath a light blue KU tee. Her black boots disappeared into the cuffs of her faded jeans. The left boot rocked back and forth. Her arms were raised, halfway, in a gesture that appeared to be an aborted hug. I stuck out my right hand and took hers. “You’re welcome; I won’t ask for a hug so you don’t need to offer one. Just get in.”


Well, there they are. Like I said, you'll notice similar themes and/or characters, not only here but it other stories I've written. Hope this makes up for my recent bad blogging skills...

"All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things." -Bobby Knight

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Time Got Away From Me...

...and now I'm going to play a blogging game.

Answer the following questions by typing the answers into Google Image Search. Then post the picture that you like best for the answer.

My Age:

A Place I would Like to Visit:

My Favorite Place:

My Favorite Object":

My Favorite Food:

My Favorite Animal:

My Favorite Color:

Town Where I Was Born:

A Past Pet:

My First Name:

My Middle Name:

My Last Name:

A Bad Habit:

My First Job:

My Current Occupation:

My Grandmother's Name:

What Are You Doing Right Now?:

There you go! Now, blogging buddies, gopher it!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lady Mondegreen

So, the good people at Merriam-Webster released their list of new words for the 2008 edition, and my favorite from the list is the word mondegreen, a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung. Check out Mondegreen at Wikipedia.

I love this word. It's now my new favorite word. My favorite mondegreens? Here they are:

Excuse me, while I kiss this guy.

There's a bathroom on the right.

Hold me Closer, Tony Danza.

And there's a wino down the road, we should have stolen Oreos.

What have I become, my Swedish friend?

What do you do when all your enemies are French?

There are a lot more, but, well, just google mondegreen or misheard lyrics, and you'll see.

No excerpt today, I don't have the time to comb through my stuff. Tomorrow. Promise. And also tomorrow, a story about a wall made out of stone.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Strictly Enforced

So yesterday, as I was barreling down the terrifyingly narrow lanes of I-44, Eastbound at Berry Rd in Webster Groves, I saw one of those flashing signs that gives people warnings about impending construction or lane shifts or whatever. You know the type. This particular one warned of stopping on the shoulder.

You see, for those of you who don't live in the StL, one of our major highways, Highway 40 (US 40, known to outsiders as I-64) is closed for a five mile stretch between I-270 and I-170. And Eastbound from there for five miles, from I-170 to Kingshighway, it is under construction (and that five mile stretch will close next year, all year). What this means is that the other two East/West Interstates in the area are overly congested, along with every concievable road I could normally take to go home from work (including the road on which my office sits). To compensate for this, the lanes on I-70 between 270 and 170 and the lanes on I-44 between 270 and downtown have been restriped narrower to accomodate for an extra lane in each direction. This hardly solves the problem, because now instead of just being jammed in traffic, we're jammed in traffic and it's easier to talk to each other because our cars are, no joke, mere inches apart. When traffic is moving along at the speed limit, it's harrowing when you are passing or getting passed, especially if there's a semi involved.

But I digress. I was talking about I-44 Eastbound at Berry Rd and the warning sign about stopping on the shoulder. My point was that due to the lane re-striping, the shoulder on each side of the road has virtually vanished. Nowhere to park if you have a flat tire, you just have to book it to the next exit and pray your wheel holds up.

But the warning sign made me cry. Why? Well, it had the message flash across it in two sections, the first being "NO STOPPING ON SHOULDER." No problem there. But the second part is what did it: "STRICKLY ENFORCED."

Wait wait wait wait..."STRICKLY?" What the hell does "Strickly" mean? Well, I Googled it and came up with a number of companies that have it as part of their name, but my favorite was the first link from the Urban Dictionary. The definition of strickly? "How morons spell strictly."

Yes, that is right, I just called Mo-Dot morons. First off, tell me why it takes Iowa, a tiny state without the tax base that Missouri has, five years to turn seventy miles of two-lane highway into a four-lane expressway complete with guideposts to let you know that you're still on it (I'm talking about the Avenue of the Saints here) when in the same time Missouri can only turn fifteen of its forty miles from two to four lanes. Tell me why. Because they're morons. Why is it that even though the I-64 construction project has been going on for two years now, the only visible progress I have seen is the completion of one seldom-used bridge, half of the Kingshighway bridge, worse commutes and five miles of closed highway? Because they're morons.

Lucky for them, today when I drove by the same sign, it had been corrected. Possibly some other enraged English Major with nothing better to do called in. But I'm glad it got fixed; people learn best from example, and from seeing. If Mo-Dot, a publicly funded government agency, can't spell correctly, then the general public will start to think spelling and grammar are optional. Well, just so you know, they're not.

One more thing; My Sister just recently blogged about her eyebrow. I, too, have only the one (unless I take measures against the creeping unibrow). Today, sitting on the exit ramp at I-44 and Laclede Station, I noticed a woman about my age in a Subaru station wagon (I know, this is hilarious because I drive a Jetta, we were both white, and the Stuff White People Like blog has mentioned how Jettas and Subaru Station Wagons were at one time the car of choice for trendy white people). She was applying a piece of hair-removing wax paper to her unibrow. I thought I should look away, but I understood that if she caught me looking, all I had to do was point out my own unkempt forehead moustache and she would be relieved of all embarassment. What makes this better is that this happened no more than a mile from my sister's house; see, Mo, you and I are not alone, not even in our own neighborhoods.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tuesday Excerpt...and an Apology...

Friday night, instead of free-writing, I went to the Skyview Drive-In to see Wall-E and Get Smart. Wall-E was definitely the better of the two, but Get Smart did have its moments. I liked a lot of the nods to the original series but, let's face it, Steve Carell, as hilarious as he can be, is no Don Adams. But back to the matter at hand, that being the blog.

The air conditioning unit outside our house sits on a concrete slab on the side of a hill, and to our dismay we discovered last week that with all the recent rain, the concrete slab has started pitching down the hill a bit. And, of course, the rotting crumbling railroad tie retaining wall wasn't going to hold. So, we had a grandiose plan for the backyard, part of it being an overhaul of this section of the yard. I thought a quick fix was in order, but then I realized that, what the hell, why not go for it and do what we want? Well, Kathy had already come to this decision because she's much more quick-witted and right about these things. So we dropped a bunch of money on retaining wall blocks, tools, rocks, etc., everything we need to build not one but two retaining walls in our back yard, to kind of step it down on that side and level out the area where the a/c unit sits. So, for the past two evenings, we've been working on tilling, digging, moving, sweating, and singing chain-gang songs. And so far, the wall is...not even remotely looking like a wall. In fact, at this point, if we get a torrential downpour (the likes of which we have in fact seen many of since March), our a/c unit will probably end up in our neighbor's yard. But we've got clear skies until Thursday-ish, so tomorrow we will work fervently to at least get enough of a wall to actually have it retain something. This also explains why I didn't free write Saturday or Sunday. That, and the suggestions were, um...well, a murder was too general, and the other suggestion was too You Don't Mess With the Zohan. But I did like the idea of making the president go away...

Right, well, there's a lot going on that I would love to talk about, but most of it has little to do with the world of writing. So, forget it, I'll get to the excerpt.

This comes from a writing exercise I did this past semester. We were supposed to write for twenty minutes about an object that held a special meaning for us. And after we were done doing that, it was all out of our system so we could write a few pages about it with some distance, as if we didn't know all of that significance.

I chose a snare drum head from the days of The Hitchhikers. And what you're getting is part of the second half of the exercise, the distanced bit.


from a writing exercise, March 2008

When I arrived, Alan greeted me at the door solemnly and showed me in. I was surrounded by Rob’s family, not a familiar face in the crowd beyond Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan, Alan, and Rob’s older sister Maggie, who had flown in from Boston where she was at grad school. The food all tasted the same to me, the meatballs sharing a texture with the crackers and cheese. Alan pulled me aside after an hour’s worth of nervous eating and took me up to Rob’s room. He told me to take anything, any one thing, to remember Rob by. I didn’t have the heart or desire to tell him that I already had Rob’s copy of his favorite book, One Hundred Years of Solitude and a hefty portion of his CD collection, but I wasn’t about to turn Alan down. I looked around the room and saw what for me had been an enigma for some time, but that I had never taken the time to ask Rob about. It was a circular object, about fourteen inches in diameter, made of flimsy plastic and coated with something white and scratchy. It was ringed with a metal hoop that gave it its firm shape, and it had been drawn on with markers over and over, so that barely any of it was legible as I stood in the middle of the room gazing at it. I asked Alan if he knew what it was. He said it was the head of a snare drum.

I took it home with me, saying goodbye to Alan and his parents, seeking out Maggie and giving her the hug I had wanted to give her since I was in fifth grade and I thought she was so pretty. I sat in my room on my bed with the drum head in my lap and stared at it. Up close, the drawings and writings were little more legible, as they had been drawn and drawn over it seemed countless times. I didn’t recognize any of the handwriting as Rob’s, and the drawings were altogether too straight-edged to be his. I looked at my wall, saw the poster Rob had drawn for a party we had thrown and compared the drawings. There was no similarity at all; Rob’s drawings were all lazy and relaxed, the angles coming together in acute and obtuse meetings. But the drawings on the drum head were sharp, right-angled. The lines were straight, but his tended to curve slightly inward as he drew. None of the lines were smeared on the drum head, either, but Rob’s lines were almost always smeared from his left hand moving the marker or pen across the medium. I examined the drum head closer, trying to pick out phrases or meanings from the drawings.

There was a tractor drawn on the bottom, smoke creeping from its exhaust pipe, forming the words “The Farm Team.” Next to that, somebody had copied pi out to twenty digits, but many of the later numbers were obscured by a hasty scrawling of “I Like Beth.” Somebody had at one time crossed out the word “Beth” and written above it “Skittles” but the line and the replacement word had been drawn with something less permanent than the original message. I couldn’t think of a single Beth that I knew aside from a distant cousin in Texas. Somebody else had drawn what looked like three Easter Island statues on the left side, under which the initials “B.S.H.” were set out in strong block letters. In the center, a five point star had been drawn and it seemed to provide a barrier against the rest of the marker; within the star, the head was mostly white, with a few dark spots as if something had struck it, and it occurred to me that this is probably where whoever had used the drum head had beat it with his or her sticks. I continued looking around it to see if there was anything else I could read. The same hand that had proclaimed affection for Beth also had written “Do or Do Not, There Is No Try” next to the stone heads, and then the quadratic formula followed in another hand.


There you have it!

"Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer - and if so, why?" -Bennett Cerf