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, 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!