Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Fart Poem

Anita was supposed to write a fart poem for Tracy's son, but she's all stressed out about her revisions and couldn't get it going. She wanted me to lead a group effort, but I don't play well with others. So since my own writing is a bit stalled (thanks partly to a dead laptop), I figured I'd just take a shot at it. (And, let's face it, I like writing fart poems.) So here it is in all its glory.

A Mystery Solved

By me

There are many questions in this world,

I wanted to answer one.

I needed little for my task--

No food, no map, no gun.

I didn’t need to travel far,

Or save a lot of money.

It didn’t matter if it rained

Or was overcast or sunny.

Bigfoot I did not care about,

The Loch Ness Monster? Boring.

Vampires, Werewolves, Zombie Hoards

all just left me snoring.

The Bermuda Triangle swallowed planes,

Raleigh wrote CROATOAN.

Did aliens build the Pyramids?

I don’t care or KNOWAN.

The mystery for me to solve was sitting in a chair.

Her eyes were getting heavy,

She fell asleep right there.

I listened very carefully,

The moment was at hand.

I dared not move a muscle,

Things were just how I had planned.

And then I heard it, a booming roar,

It gave me such a start.

My question had finally been answered.

Yes, even grandmas fart.

Now, go forth and write your own fart poem. Tracy's son is a fiend.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Status Updates

I wrote a chapter in my work-in-progress yesterday. It probably sucks, but at least it's done. Which is pretty much exactly the attitude I had toward every single one of my performances on final exams in college. Summa cum laude I was not.

The Wife got an iPod Nano. I'm listening to it now. She bought it for running, but we've quickly discovered the inadequacies of the earbuds. Namely, they fall out when we so much as tilt our heads like a confused German Shepherd. So now we have to buy new earbuds. (I find it curious that Blogger doesn't recognize "earbuds" as a correctly spelled word, even though the iPod has been around since 2001 and Blogger was redesigned in 2006.)

I've lost seven pounds so far. My efforts started in earnest last Tuesday. (As opposed to the half-assed attempts I usually make, typically consisting of replacing pop with Gatorade.) I took only last Saturday off (I didn't run).

Got three books from the library today: The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, Liar, and The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin.

Four queries sitting neglected in in-boxes. One partial at the Nelson Agency, proving they have discriminating taste.

Seven weeks of teaching left. [Insert own joy-expressing interjection here. I'd go with Huzzah!, but that's just me.]

Go Wings.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Justin Bieber's Hair Attacked Me

Last night I was attacked by Justin Bieber’s hair. Here’s how it all went down:

I was watching TV with the wife. She likes to watch these shows about celebrities. You know the ones. The Osmond family is highlighted at what seems a frequency incommensurate with their fame. Anyway, there was this kid on the show. I’d never seen him before. “Who’s that?” I asked.

“Justin Bieber,” the wife said. She’s knowledgeable about such things.

“Who’s he?”

She told me he’s this kid who sings some song. All the girls love him, apparently.

“What’s up with his hair?”

It’s his trademark, she said, what he’s known for. Like Michael Jackson’s glove or Ellen Degeneres’s… humor. The girls love it, I guess.

“It looks ridiculous.” And it did. It was pretty in a way-- nice hair, I mean, but odd. It was sort of brushed forward like he’d been walking with a strong wind at his back and it got whipped around his face and he’d just left it there.

“The girls love it.”

I pushawed. I don’t understand “the girls.” Never did.

An hour or so later I was outside pushing the wheeled trash receptacle down to the curb. It was dark out. I like to wait until dark because I don’t want my neighbors to know I make trash. I turned around to head back to the house when someone hissed, “Hey, buddy.”

Except it was not a someone. It was an it. Specifically, it was Justin Bieber’s hair. It was floating, looking like a really nice toupee, right there above my driveway.

“What are you doing here?” I asked it. It seemed like a good question at the time.

“I heard what you said about me,” said Justin Bieber’s hair.


“I have certain…abilities.”

“Whatever. I’m heading back in. I don’t spend my nights talking with disembodied hairdos.”

That’s when Justin Bieber’s hair attacked me. It leaped at my face and tried to gouge out my eyeballs, but mostly it just tickled. It was really soft and I couldn’t help noticing that it smelled good too, like vanilla and lavender. “You will respect me!” Justin Bieber’s hair yelled in a girlish voice.

I was about to grab for the hair to rip it from my face, but just then a few strands found their way into my mouth and the taste! Oh, the taste! “Certain abilities” indeed! I would compare it, were there anything on this Earth to compare it to!

Okay, I’ll try. How’s this: It tasted like a rainbow would taste if you had giant hands and could squeeze the rainbow and extract rainbow juice. Yes, just like that! It tasted like rainbow juice.

Needless to say, I abandoned my attempt to free myself from its intoxicating clutches and instead slurped. I slurped Justin Bieber’s hair. And it tasted divine. When I was done, the hair pulled itself from my face. “So,” it said, all haughty.

“So,” I answered.

The hair stared at me.

“It would seem I owe you an apology,” I told it.

“It would seem.”

“I am sorry. I…didn’t understand.”

“Not many do.” And then Justin Bieber’s hair departed, like a rainbow-flavored, vanilla and lavender-scented zephyr, back to Atlanta. Back to Justin’s head. Back to its improbable, glorious existence.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm trying to lose weight

This has absolutely nothing to do with writing, so if you're looking for some insight on that subject, I suggest checking elsewhere. (Anita's at least trying to connect her exercise posts to writing.) Actually, even if this was going to be about writing, I'd still suggest you seek knowledge elsewhere because I don't really know what the hell I'm doing.

I'm trying to lose weight. I'm not going to get into all of methods I'm employing because whenever I do people try to tell me I'm going about it all wrong. And of course they're wrong, which makes things really awkward because I then have a choice of getting into an argument or pretending to be open-minded about what they have to say.

Anyway, obviously, I'm exercising some. I jog. I walk. Here are some thoughts I had while walking and jogging lately:

  • I feel like a tough guy when I'm running into the wind. (It reminds me of when Rocky was training for his fight against Ivan Drago.) And I feel super fast and in shape when I'm running with the wind.
  • I keep my mouth closed when I run because a. you look like an idiot otherwise and b. I'm always afraid one of those fat, lethargic, and seemingly confused bees is going to fly right down my throat. Swallowing a bee is one of my greatest fears, right behind reaching into a dark hole and being attacked by scorpions.
  • When running on the sidewalk, I still try to avoid stepping on cracks. You're welcome, Mom.
  • It's a damn good thing birds don't realize how terrified I am of them.
  • One of the more annoying things about running is it seems to produce a kind of watery snot that I really don't know what to do with. I don't want to bring Kleenex with me. Handkerchiefs are just disgusting and, as I am not yet over the age of seventy, may even be illegal. I'm not an accomplished snot rocket launcher, so the bottom of my shirt it is.
  • People who own dogs and allow them out of the house should keep them on a leash.
  • I run faster when people are watching. I also suck in my gut more and hold my breath so they can't tell how out of shape I am.
  • Joggers apparently feel a kind of kinship with fellow joggers, no matter the difference in fitness level. I'd rather they didn't, because it's hard to reciprocate a greeting when you're holding your breath and sucking in your gut.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Which I Celebrate the Beauty of Form Rejections

I would like to thank all of the agents who have sent me form rejections. It's difficult to get defensive about a form rejection. There isn't much analyzing or parsing to be done. Form rejections are barely even remembered, so terrifically uniform and bland they are. Exhibit A, for those out there who have never received one:

I regret to say that I don't feel that I'm the most appropriate agent for your work.

However, opinions vary considerably in this business, and I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.

Nothing in there to piss me off too badly really. It's polite. It lets me down gently with the whole subjectivity thing. Hell, it even wishes me luck. Not once have I read a form rejection and wanted to explain my novel any further than I had already done in the query letter. Not once have I had my reading interrupted when I realized that what I was criticized for in a rejection was now happening, right on the page, of the book I was reading.

Take my current Newbery Honor read over there on the right. A Long Way From Chicago by one of the Pecks who writes kids' books is "a novel in stories," which basically means it's a bunch of short stories starring the same characters. The stories are funny. The novel--if you can really call it that--is historical. But it's meant to be a kids' book, and while the stories are told by the boy, the star of the show is undoubtedly the boy's grandmother.

Now I wouldn't normally care about this but for the fact that an agent who rejected my current young adult manuscript cited as one of its weaknesses too much of a focus on the adults. I thought it a valid criticism--until I read A Long Way From Chicago, a book in which the two kids do pretty much nothing except witness the exploits of their no-nonsense grandmother. So I guess the lessons are these: Agents, just send along the form rejection; it's far less painful. And make sure you mention how subjective this business is, is.