Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Incidentally ...

My company-ordered Webless workdays have been really, really productive. I treat my tasks each day like I'm on a game show, and I feel like I win everyday.

(Please, for all that is good and holy, let me sell a damn story soon.)

We play requests.

Someone asked me to write a love story, and I think the last couple blog entries have been rather downbeat. So I'm working on it. I'm going to write some sort of love story - which should be interesting considering how I just bashed love and sex, essentially.

I'll let you know how it goes. Or you'll see.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Make no mistake.

A friend has informed me that the below post, though written well, will stop me from getting laid ever again. While I was writing it, I wasn't concerned about that. Really. Truth be told, I don't much concern myself with where my next lay is coming from. Fucks just tend to happen, don't tend to matter much and don't tend to last. (Tonight I saw one of my old ones sign on to Yahoo! Messenger, for instance. I recall him being a nice enough guy and a pretty good lover, so I considered saying hello for a moment. Instead, I came to my senses and deleted him from my contact list. I don't really want reminders that he's out there. That chapter's done.)

Anyway, I was only really concerned about the piece being descriptive, about it communicating and reflecting my mood in that given moment. Forgive the high-mindedness, but I only wanted it to be true and good. I've not written anything true and good in weeks, and I just wanted some reminder to come to me that I could still do it. (Hawking essays you wrote three years ago, though rewarding, can bum you out if you've not written anything new.)

I asked my friend - who only wanted to protect me while I was "openly vulnerable" because he loves me - if he understood what I wrote. He said he tried to understand it, but he kept getting distracted by the imagery surrounding my toenails.

Tonight, I clipped my toenails and watched THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, which regular readers may recognize as my ritual to cheer myself up. The bank account's low, the apartment's messy, I'm low on gas, I watched porn that Brad gave me, did nothing to find a new job, did nothing to lose weight, did no laundry. I only wore my new shoes outside to fetch my cell phone from my car. It's mostly pathos, a Sunday without ambition.

The weather was nice today. Other people would've gone to the park. I waited to do something until the only thing to do was watch THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. I am not in a good mindset. I am not a good man.

The suggestions behind the below post - not the post itself - are the things I would be wise to rid myself of. I want to rid myself of my frequent notion that things can't get better, that effort won't be rewarded, that depression is standard, that I deserve clutter, that lackadaise is somehow an honest reaction to perpetual disappointment.

I need a soul cleansing. I need ambition again. I need life. I need movement. The combined ups-and-downs of this April have put me in a rut.

I told my brother that I was molested, and it didn't seem to change anything.

I had a really great reading that reminded me I'm capable of doing more, yet I'm unsure which direction I'm supposed to go in.

I got into trouble at work, which led to "tough love" conversations with friends that revealed I'm more than willing to just continue suffering through. I'm passive as a defense mechanism. I don't change, for change would require effort, effort would mean risk, risk could mean danger, danger could be bad, etc.

I am stuck, past, present and future-tense, waiting for something to happen TO me. I make jokes. I have pessimism rooted in the marrow of my bones, protecting me from good and bad.

I have an attitude problem. And I can't find any solutions to it that don't seem fake. I'm not the sort who puts on a smile for long.

To the friend who loves me, I love you too. I'm sorry we've been trapped in this circular argument for years.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sizes may vary.

After dinner with my cousin at an O'Charley's, my ill, scratchy-voiced mother suggested that the two of us, alone for the night, use the hour afterward to do some sort of shopping before the stores closed. Even though she was beat after babysitting my cousin's son for the day and has been suffering from laryngitis and allergies all week, she wanted to take advantage of my visit and not go directly home, even though the stores were about to close.

She suggested Ross or Marshalls. I asked if we could go to DSW.

She asked why I'd want to go to a shoe store, of all places, and I pointed to the well-worn, torn-soled, two-year-old pair of black Steve Maddens at my feet.

My mother can cope with a messy house. She can't cope with messy clothes.

"Oh my God, why are you wearing those in public?" she asked me.

I put them on without socks this afternoon when I left my apartment, I told her. I was only walking to the rental office to pick up a package, so it didn't seem necessary to dress up for the occasion.

But my day's activities had ballooned from that one task. I got the package. I jumped in my car. A phone call to Kacoon put Duluth in my head, so I headed in that direction. Thinking about Duluth led me to think about the Steak & Shake there, so I suddenly had a destination and a chocolate milkshake in mind. Arriving in Duluth, I called my mother in Buford to see if she had the photos from my reading (and to see what her voice sounded like). She told me, just barely, that she could print them out for me at her house. And she also told me that she'd been babysitting my cousin's son all day and that my cousin was arriving soon to pick up the boy. And she told me that my stepdad had gone fishing for the night. Then, she coughed and coughed. So I got back on the expressway in Duluth and headed toward Buford.

It wasn't until Mom and I left O'Charley's that I noticed I still had on my bad shoes. These shoes were my once-fashionable, once-expensive, once-favorite pair that now had holes in the leather and worn-out rubber soles that caused me leg pain. These were the ones my co-worker Shalewa mocked for a couple months until I stopped wearing them. The leg pain didn't motivate me to abandon the shoes. The mockery did.

(Seriously, my shoes were so bad that Shalewa probably would've written an apt, inspirational folk song about them if I'd suffered through them at work much longer.)

My gait is uneven. My body is disabled. My feet are pigeon-toed, thus oddly calloused and two different sizes. My toenails, like every other detail of my day-to-day life, often suggest unattractive disarray. My footwear generally has a limited shelf-life.

When my mom studied the shoes on my feet, she kinda flipped out, albeit at a minimal volume.

"Those are RUINED ...," she squeaked. "Tell me you haven't worn those to work."

"I haven't worn them in weeks," I said. "I just put them on when I ran out of the house today."

She cleared her throat.


"Mom, I promise," I said. "I've been wearing the Rockports. No one's SEEN ME in these shoes in weeks."

* * * * *

My mother, like most people, is mortified, on occasion, by glimpses of how I live. My apartment, my car, my desk at work all suggest I'm a scattered mind and/or a glutton for punishment.

My car, though, is the worst. The floorboards and seats of my "white" '96 Saturn are buried in garbage, old mail, CD jewel cases, books, boxes and baskets. At this point, a team of archaeologists would be required to help me clean it. Some friends ask me if I have the bodies of old boyfriends somewhere in the back, underneath the clutter. Passersby wonder if I live in it.

I'm personally ashamed of the car, sorta. I park far away from buildings so that no one realizes it's mine and judges me. But I also consider my messy car, in some ways, a character trait and am, thus far, unmotivated to dig through it.

Another co-worker at the bookstore once asked me about the messy lifestyle. I defended my mess, using an anecdote about a known gay writer.

"I read somewhere that Quentin Crisp kept a 'famously filthy' apartment," I said.

He was appalled and said, "You consider QUENTIN CRISP a role model???"

* * * * *

My right foot is an 8-1/2. My left foot is an 8. Thus, I usually buy a size 8-1/2 pair and cope.

But, in the store, Mom kept insisting that I try on a Size 9, offering up that shoe sizes are merely a suggestion and not gospel.

"Companies vary," my mother rasped, dangling a laceless pair of brown leather Diesels in my face. "Just try on the 9."

"No," I said. "It has to be an 8-1/2. I don't trust it otherwise. And, besides, those don't have shoelaces."

"They stretch to fit your foot," she whispered. "Why do you need shoelaces?"

"Because I like tradition," I said. "And I don't like loafers."

She argued that they weren't loafers, that they were trendy "laceless sneakers," but I don't trust anything that doesn't have laces. It took me forever, as a kid, to learn to tie my shoes. It seems rude to just throw away all those hours of practice.

Besides, surviving Velcro and the Nike Air Pump, I feel I've outgrown shoe gadgetry. (I feel like I should make a Maxwell Smart reference here, but I can't think of one.)

I eventually found a pair of cool, suede, light-brown Skechers in my size, and my mom told me to try them on. I thought of my feet.

"I'm not wearing any socks," I said. "Let's just buy them."

"You can put on the temporary socks," she rasped.

"Temporary socks?"

"They're right there," she said, pointing to a box on the shelf. It looked like a tissue box, but it was filled with wadded-up, brown hosiery feet. I'd seen one before, but I had never used it.

"This just seems weird," I said, considering the hosiery. "I've not done drag before."

My mother rolled her eyes at me and said she was heading toward ladieswear.

I slipped the stretchy material of the hosiery over my feet, hoping that the vicious shards that I consider toenails wouldn't cause them to immediately run. Surprisingly the footies were light and airy against my calloused skin, as though God (or Leggs) had painted a protective glaze over my feet.

I immediately fell in love with the idea of male hosiery. Once, during an "experimental phase" in college, I kept my legs shaved for a couple weeks. The act itself was ridiculous, but the resulting bare legs made me feel daring, confident and attractive - until girls in the dorm started prank-calling my room and offering me bottles of Nair.

My moment with the footies reminded me of a simpler, more beautiful time and reminded me that my body image could change. I tried on the shoes, then switched back to my beat-up shoes while we rang up the new ones, and I've kept the glorious footies on the whole time. (Please, no one mention to me that this is either gross or bizarre. Trust me, I've considered these things.)

I've kept the footies on all night. I find odd comfort in the heavenly latex. I was wearing them when I went home with my mother. We made chocolate milkshakes and watched THE GODFATHER until Al Pacino left the gun and took the cannoli, then Mom fell asleep. I wore them when I went shopping at Wal-mart. I wore them during the ride home. And I'm wearing them while typing this.

Tomorrow, I should maybe seek some new job. Tomorrow, I should maybe clean my car. Tomorrow, I should maybe make the most of this odd, momentary confidence I'm feeling. Tomorrow, it is only definite that I will go back to wearing socks. It is practically guaranteed that I will put on my new shoes.

Because I know myself, I know that my old Steve Maddens will not go in the garbage. They will not be destroyed. They will linger in my apartment. Heck, I will probably wear them again someday, out of some old ritual or some old habit.

They hurt my feet, but they are how I see myself.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Things to do when you have more time.

- I am on the net less these days.
- I need to blog less, anyway, and do some actual writing.
- Fear not, I will still blog. I want to keep up my "Things to Do ..." lists.
- I just can't focus on the list again this week.
- My regrets to all.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The triumph.

(This is the glass elevator that Lupo and I rode up after I finished my reading. It wasn't until we were on the elevator, traveling all the way up, that I remembered I was scared of heights.)

So, yes, my reading was a success. It was a success because I was able to get through the whole thing in front of a group of people without collapsing. It was a success because the stage was set up the way that I wanted it to be. It was a success because Lupo gave me one of those good, lingering hugs that he - and only he - can give me, a hug from someone who you feel like you haven't seen in ages who you can't wait to reach out and touch. It was a success because my father sent me an e-mail after it, saying he was proud of me and impressed at how I behaved through the whole thing. It was a success because profs there encouraged me to submit my work to The Oxford American. It was a success because I got to look at Vic right at the moment that I read a sentence in it that only she knows is all about her, which is a moment that I'd played out in my head. It was a success because it's just really, really fun for me to read that story to people, and I think my fun shows when I read it.

When I read my story, I read it better than anybody else ever could, and the rush I get while doing it is comparable to the first time I found out I could jump rope. When I read it, my heart beats fast, and I'm doing something that I doubted I could do better than I thought I could do it. It's not Hemingway, but it's mine. And, with it, I can make people laugh. I can put the picture of a Waffle House, of all places, in their heads and make them think of their own stories of such places. When I read it, I feel like I'm good at something, that I'm where I'm supposed to be, and that feeling matters to me.

I've been bragging a little (OK, a lot) since Friday because I made strangers laugh, because I received a lot of comments at the panel Q&A and handled the questions well.

Friday was a really great day.

(This is me and Syd.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Thank you.

To everyone who showed up at my reading on Friday, thank you very much for making the conference a success for me and for making me feel supported. It was a really great day for me, and you all probably have heard or received individual thanks from me.

To those of you unable to attend, I will write about what happened here when I wrap my head around all of it and when I receive the hundreds of photos that my mom took. (I think she had me pose and big plastic smile with everyone in the room. Usually, as she was doing this, Lupo was standing right behind her and the camera, laughing at me.)

I think I may title her entire photo series according to what she told me to do, "Here, Benjie, stand here in your suit with your program ...," "Stand here with your father and brother... ," "Now stand here with your classmates ..."

(This morning, Mom called me up to brainstorm ideas for the one-man-show that she's "always" told me that I should do, usually when she wants me to make fun of someone who's annoyed her, like I'm her comic hitman. Of course, she never wants to hear my ideas. Instead, she just tells me what she thinks is funny and tells me I should "come up with something" about that.)

My hope, going into the conference, was that I would get a chance to do the sort of program that would really entertain my regular readers and friends who've supported me, in addition to gaining some new attention for my work, and I think that it was as successful as I was hoping for. Additionally, I appreciated the opportunity to tallk about my class at the Margaret Mitchell House and acknowledge my writing professor in front of a group of her peers, and I hope I made them proud while bringing more attention to our fledgling program. I think I maybe did.

Anyway, I really want to look forward from this event more than reflect on it, though it is a great memory, so I'm going to start working on some new stuff, maybe for the blog or maybe just long-form essays.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Things I didn't write when I had other things to do.

- I'm just sorta gonna pretend that I have a list this week, and that it mentions things like the Dixie Chicks' new single and upcoming album, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING going into wider release, Mary Higgins Clark doing a signing at the Margaret Mitchell House this week and such.
- Because I presented Friday at my academic conference, the one written up in the newspaper, I thought it more important to rest and prepare for that than to actually do my "Things to Do ..." list.
- Sorry for the inconvenience.
- Happy birthday to a guy named Stuart, whom I've never met.
- THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Um, what do you think this week's question should be?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My essay reading.

OK, so you've probably heard me talk about this to death already, but here goes:

WHO: Me.
WHAT: Reading that Waffle House essay.
WHERE: The Marriott Marquis, Marquis Ballroom, Salon One.
WHEN: Friday, April 14, 2:30-4 p.m.
WHY: The joint national conference of the ACA-PCA. My panel is "Southern Literature & Culture VIII: Southern Memoir and Personal Essay."
HOW MUCH: It is $5 for a day pass to the conference, which will allow you to attend panels like mine.

The conference website is here. I cannot find information on parking and what-not, but the website does provide some information on that sort of thing.

I look forward to seeing anyone who wants to attend.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mental note.

Write about the Saturday you just had later, once you've wrapped your head around it:

* Saw midnight movie, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, with Roger from the bookstore. Decent movie.

* Slept late, delaying lunch with brother Dan. Eventually met up with him and his pregnant wife at Ruby Tuesday. After trip to salad bar, began to explain to Dan how our stepbrother molested me when we were teens. Dan was very good about listening to me, told me that I needed to do whatever I felt was right and that, if telling him was the thing to do, then so be it. I kept asking if I was being stupid, unsure of how exactly to talk about this at all, let alone at a Ruby Tuesday. Dan called me "different." At one point, Dan made a very insightful analogy to golf. MUST REMEMBER DIALOGUE.

* Spent day with dad, Dan, other family at campground. Saw Dad's Airstream for the first time. Cousins were visiting from Montana. Didn't really participate much in conversation. Too busy thinking.

* Opera Guy from bookstore called me up, told me he'd broken up with his boyfriend, told me he was going bowling in Chamblee. Since I was driving from Lake Lanier, I joined he and his friends bowling. He's very flamboyant. His friends were a batch of 23-year-old heteros. At one point, Opera Guy grabbed his straight friend's ass while the friend bowled, but Opera Guy was traveling at such a velocity that he grabbed the ass, then tripped, then fell into the adjoining lane, then slid partway down the lane, then couldn't stop laughing long enough to stand up. Opera Guy is kinda cool.

* Opera Guy's friends typed my name into the bowling alley scoreboard as "BENCH."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

He asked me, "Are you a writer?"

I attended the Stephen McCauley signing at the bookstore, and it was intimate enough for the small group of fans to have a conversation with the author.

I asked him how he got his start, whether he was "discovered" or if he had a pile of rejection notices somewhere.

He told the story of writing THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION as his graduate thesis for Brandeis and how his advisor forwarded it to publishers, then he asked me if I was a writer.

"Yes," I said, kinda mortified that I had become the "How'd you get your start?"/"Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?" question.

I always feel like those kids who ask for career advice on INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO are blood-sucking, attention-hog vultures. (Incidentally, at that Patricia Neal Q&A in Athens a few weeks ago, Neal was asked for career advice and told this eager, chipper, aspiring actress, "Don't do it! It's too hard, and odds are that you won't make it!" That was great.)

Anyway, McCauley asked me what I write, and I told him that I was presenting an essay at conference this week.

"What's your essay about?" he asked me, even though there were six other people in the audience there who probably didn't want to hear me talk about my essays.

"Well, it's an essay about this one time I saved a Waffle House from closing," I said. "And I have another essay floating around about my worst kiss ever."

Someone else in the group explained to McCauley what Waffle House was, using the following brilliant sentence.

"It's like an International House of Pancakes, except with waffles," the man explained. "And it's really Southern, and it's open 24-hours-a-day."

"Yeah," McCauley said deadpan. "I figured that, since it was named Waffle House, it served waffles."

He asked me if I had a copy with me of either story, and I told him that I unfortunately didn't. He told me that was a shame.

"OK, so tell me about the other story," he said.

"Um, it's about the worst kiss I ever received, and it's just floating around at some places," I said, then mumbled an apology for going on too long.

"It's OK," McCauley said to me. "I asked you."

And we smiled at each other.

So when the Q&A ended, I decided to take some initiative, and I went to the front desk and grabbed some business cards.

I was the last person to get books signed. I had my copy of THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION signed, and I had McCauley sign a copy of his new one, ALTERNATIVES TO SEX, for Lupo. I told him about how Lupo called me up last week and told me he was excited over his new McCauley arriving.

At that, I sounded a little nervous, but I kept talking to the author.

"Um, thank you for asking me about my essays," I said, considering that I was maybe talking more about my work than about his. "Were you serious about wanting to read them?"

"Yes," he said. So I gave him my e-mail address, and I told him to contact me. He put the address at the front of one of his manuscripts atop his brown backpack.

"I'm on the road for the next month," he said to me. "But, if you don't hear from me within a month, just send me an e-mail through my website."

Then, he repeated the words "through my website," like it was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever said, and rolled his eyes.

"It's OK," I said. "Everyone has a website now. I have one."

Then I offered up my hand and told him that it was nice to meet him.

And Stephen McCauley shook my hand.

Even though he might not have meant it, I'm going to send him my stuff. Because he did ask about it.

Friday, April 07, 2006


My friend Larry called me up just now and recommended some new bar named Amsterdam to me. He said it would be the sort of place I would find "interesting." I asked him why he thought that, for I don't think I've been to a gay bar in over six months.

"You go to Burkhart's," he said to me.

"I've not been to Burkhart's in months, and the only reason I went there, really, was because my friends work there," I said.

The last time I went to a gay bar, Larry was with me. It was the middle of the afternoon at one of those giant-video-screen places with the deafening music. I am no longer attractive enough to consider it a good thing that I'm the most attractive man in a room. Thus, the experience was dismal.

Taking under consideration how I got drunk on New Year's and ruined Larry's bathroom rug, I'm kinda anti-bar. I just don't really enjoy it, whether drinking or not drinking.

I've heard Larry's new bathroom rug is really nice. I don't know, though, if it's absorbent.

Things to do as a has-been gets "lucky."

- When did Josh Hartnett stop being famous? Was it PEARL HARBOR? (That would make sense. That movie brought everyone's stock down, even mine, and all I did was watch the thing.) Maybe it was HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE with Harrison Ford, which only succeeded at being excessively boring. (More like HOLLYWOOD CAREER SUICIDE.) Anyway, his latest attempt to regain notoreity is the con movie, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN, which opens in theaters this weekend. It co-stars, startlingly, Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman, and friends who've seen it tell me that it's good. (Reviewers appear to have a different opinion.) I suppose Hartnett deserves another chance at fame. I mean, it's not like PEARL HARBOR was his fault.

- Former child star Joseph Gordon Levitt has shown surprising depth and talent in his last couple projects, particularly MYSTERIOUS SKIN. His latest independent movie, BRICK, opens today at the Landmark, and its premise sounds sorta cool. It's a high school take on '30s detective noir novels, like Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON. Levitt plays an outsider kid who starts to investigate criminal gangs at his school after his ex goes missing.
- Tonight at 7:30, gay author Stephen McCauley will do a reading from his new book ALTERNATIVES TO SEX and then sign books. McCauley's a very good writer, and I read his novel,THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION, in the '90s during a rare collision in my "I'm going to read books about gay people" and "I'm going to read books that are about to be movies" period. (Vic, at the time, said those were the only sorts of books I read. Unfortunately, McCauley's really good book was turned into a pretty bad Jennifer Aniston movie that managed to miss the point of the book entirely. I'm going to the signing tonight with my worn copy of OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION, hoping he'll sign it for me.

- Dear Hollywood: Pardon me, but who in the fuck greenlighted the new movie BENCHWARMERS? Who the fuck thought that putting the individually annoying Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder TOGETHER in a movie would be a good idea??? Movies like this seem like they were designed as a joke, a film that will show in Hell for all eternity. Sincerely, Disgruntled Moviegoer.

- Antonio Banderas stars as an inspirational, inner-city dance instructor in TAKE THE LEAD. The previews make it look like the ballroom, non-Catholic version of SISTER ACT 2. I suppose there are worse movies out there, like BASIC INSTINCT 2, but what is the appeal of this? The dancing? Antonio Banderas looking old? The smart-aleck, rebel, ethnic kids everyone's given up on ... who learn to believe in themselves?

- I checked the movie listings, and, sadly, it looks like this week is your last chance to see LARRY THE CABLE GUY: HEALTH INSPECTOR in local theaters. Frankly, this title just baffles me. Is he supposed to be a cable guy AND a health inspector? I can suspend my disbelief for movies about alien invasions and decent politicians and such, but I just can't grasp the idea that this idiot would be hired by a cable company or the state.

- Last night, as it often happens, some customers came in and started talking to me about old movies. After the usual check to see if I was a "real movie fan" or not, they proceeded to talk to me about the '50s melodramas directed by the brilliant Douglas Sirk. The only one they'd seen was Lana Turner's fabulous tearjerker IMITATION OF LIFE, which is rightfully one of the favorite movies of every woman and gay man I know. Sirk's movies were always these rich, beautiful, over-the-top soap operas that critics either consider stupid or brilliant. (Shalewa told me last night that she was able to watch IMITATION OF LIFE all the way through without crying, which prompted her mother to ask her, "Are you HUMAN?") For the customers, I recommended Sirk's WRITTEN ON THE WIND, a drama about an oil magnate's twisted family starring Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack and a nymphomaniac Dorothy Malone. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, is also available from Criterion Collection. Of course, director Todd Haynes filmed a mock Sirk film a couple years ago, and it's equally as cheesy and fabulous. That one's FAR FROM HEAVEN, which starred Julianne Moore as a '50s housewife torn between her gay husband (Dennis Quaid) and her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert). Not only does Moore have to figure out what to do with her love life, she also has to cope with what the neighbors might think. It's a really good movie.
- Next Friday at 2:30 p.m., I will be reading my essay, "Prayer of the Waffle House Faithful" at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta. My presentation is part of the national joint conference of the American Cultural Association and Popular Culture Association. According to the website, if you pay five bucks at the door, you can come to the panel, which will feature essays on the Southern experience. Thus far, a lot of my friends have told me they would come, and that really excites me. I think this reading is going to be something special.

- My friend Michael, who works at TBS, alerted me to these LORD OF THE RINGS promos they're airing. Seriously, check them out. It confirms everything you've ever secretly thought about Sam and Frodo's bond.
- Thanks to iTunes, I've been able to listen to Natasha Bedingfield's song UNWRITTEN without having to undergo the shame of owning such a CD. Of course, I like the song because it features my favorite thing, a writing metaphor. (For that same reason, I also like Elvis Costello's EVERY DAY I WRITE THE BOOK and Cake's SHADOW STABBING.) Anyway, I know Natasha Bedingfield is overdone pop, but I can't help liking that song. Its book-as-metaphor thing wins me over. For obvious reasons, it speaks to me through the cheese. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: So, if your life were a TV show, what would be your theme song, and why? Heck, if your life were a TV show, what kind of show would it be? Sitcom? Daytime drama? Failed pilot?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Deborah Norville looks pissed today.

My father often uses the term "shit-eating grin." I thought about that while watching INSIDE EDITION a few minutes ago.

The show's host, Deborah Norville, fired from NBC's TODAY after taking Jane Pauley's place, was forced to report about her replacement Katie Couric's historic ascent to the anchor chair of CBS EVENING NEWS.

Yeah, Deborah's a professional (and a fellow UGA alum), but I could see through that smile.

In her head, Norville was probably thinking, "Shoulda been me ... shoulda been me ... Instead, I'm on this tabloid show ... I hate you, Katie Couric, you bitch!!!"

Frankly, I think the Couric move is kinda great. Still, since Elizabeth Vargas hasn't co-anchored ABC's news program in months, does that sorta kinda make her the first female anchor of a network's evening newscast?

Ah well. I've seen Katie Couric yell at Ann Coulter on TV before, so I'll be tuning in.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"What kind of creature wants you to eat it?"

I just got back from SLITHER, and, yes, it was sick, gross, disgusting, over-the-top and occasionally scary. Even dogs and cute children aren't safe in it. But it was, also, absolutely fucking hilarious.

It takes a moment for it to get started (as smalltown cops guess how fast a bird flies), but, once it gets started, the movie absolutely rules.

Expect me to quote it for the remainder of my life.

To explain that one character is a lesbian, a cop says, "Margaret packs a box lunch."

Looking upon a valley full of gutted dogs and mutilated cows, another cop pontificates, "I'm guessing this guy don't have one of those Puppy-a-Day calendars on his desk. I mean, I'm just sayin', it don't look like he's an animal lover."

Anyway, I want to see it again this weekend. Someone, anyone please come with me. This shit is more fun than mocking Britney Spears in CROSSROADS.

It has nudity (including a scene featuring an incredibly obese man having an encounter with an alien that has to be seen to be ... properly digested), extreme gore (including a scene where a woman gives birth to alien worms, sorta), the genius Elizabeth Banks and Nathan Fillion.

SLITHER rocked. Fuckin' great. Potential cult classic.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Notes on an unfinished nothing.

I tried writing fiction in college. One piece, titled "4:19" because I was too dumb to actually realize what that meant, was creepy yet well-received. It was a five-part story, written as a serial over e-mail, and it actually gathered more readers as it went along. I thought I might be able to do something again like that, but all future attempts were seen by readers as boring and such, including the detective story I had in my head and the criminal story and the gay romance story. None of them worked. So I stopped really doing more than dabbling in fiction. Better to be a decent essayist, I thought, than a really, really bad fiction writer.

So I have stayed safe, writing about things that happened to me or overanalyzing moments. I have tried to keep things mostly funny, occasionally serious or deep. I still have in mind the idea that I could maybe write fiction ... but I would have to get it just right.

I'm in my class, yet I don't take risks and use the class for what it's good for. I don't break out as often as I probably should, using the class to actually learn how to do things better. Writing something tedious or boring tends to, well, crush me. I like my reputation, however much I deny it or however confident I manage to sound while saying this, as someone whose work is generally quality, the sort of stuff you'd want to read.

I was going to read a book this weekend. I only read a chapter. I was going to write a story this weekend. I ended up sorta showcasing an old, failed one. I was going to do my laundry, and I ended up sorta doing it and sorta playing WORLD OF WARCRAFT at Kacoon's house during a six-hour visit to her apartment.

If something's going to happen with my writing, I'm going to have to actually, eventually, inevitably write with the focus others would give to a job. I have to write it the way that I would write a dissertation, devoting focus and time and energy and study.

This is my project. This is what I'm doing because I want to do it. This is my life's work.

And I need to start doing it, actually, eventually, inevitably, and I need to practice the things I'm afraid won't be good. I have to do the hard work on stuff that I'm afraid might be bad. I have to break the mold I've established for myself and "my work."

I have to go back to London. Or, barring that, I have to write again with my London mindset. It's time to try something new.

Of course, in writing this, I'm resorting to old methods to discuss a new direction.

Is that progress?