Monday, February 28, 2011

The Electronic Dojo

Nine years have passed since my dear friend Hank died. I remember the day with the clarity that trauma affords, but that's not what I remember about Hank. Hank was loads of fun, complexity, and humor. He kept our group of friends together in a myriad of both practical and emotional ways. I always knew this, but I know it now more that he's gone. We do our best, but it's not the same. Every once in a very long time, you know someone who creates magic in the world.

Hank would laugh his ass off at the idea that he was magic. He'd mark me down for using cliches and being maudlin. He loved to call people on their bullshit. He once threw a biscuit at a waiter who didn't respect his request not to throw a biscuit at him (it was the standard practice at this restaurant and Hank asked that he not throw things at him since he was blind). He was extremely proud of himself that he managed to hit the guy in the face. Like most everything else he did, his aim was true.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Academy Awards!

Tonight is one of my favorite nights, the Academy Awards. I know lots of people who think it's bullshit and it probably is, but the dresses! The drama! The fake pained smiles when someone doesn't win, it's all very good. But tonight James Franco is hosting. Yes, Daniel Desario from Freaks and Geeks. I hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday . . .

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hesitation Cuts

Revision is a hell of a lot of work, like trying to clean your house and realizing that actually what needs to happen is that the walls need to be knocked out, the foundation rebuilt, and well, fuck it, why not start on something new? This is why so many writers have the start or first draft of many, many pieces. I know; I'm in the house right now, of a long piece of work, one to which I've devoted a lot of time and effort. I'm standing in the house, wondering if it's worth it. The house has so much to recommend it, but still. I see glimmers of promise, molding I love, an antique chandelier. I also see the problems. What's a girl to do?

First, stall. This is a good idea. If stalling makes you feel bad, call it meditation. When you can do this no longer, take a second look at the mess. Because it's a mess. The fruits of your labor, well, they suck. This is the clinical term. You pause. If still freaked out, continue to stall/meditate. Think about the times you've taken everything out of your closet. You managed to make sense of it, even when it didn't seem like the place would ever be clean again. Give yourself a pep talk. If you don't like the word pep talk, you can ground yourself, like a downed wire. Read inspirational quotes about long journeys starting with a single step and things that are in locker rooms about quitters never winning and winners never quitting. Take a deep breath. You don't want to crawl back down off the high dive.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it, Begin it now." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Cocktail Hour
Movie suggestion: Cedar Rapids

Benedictions and Maledictions
Thanks for all the kind words about the novella! And yes, yes, on the autograph. Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reservations Advised

Hi everyone -- thanks so much for all the support on Dead Girl, Live Boy! You guys rock! Here's a little bit about the experience of writing it.

I've been working on Dead Girl, Live Boy for a long time. A very long time. As a child, I loved Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, a book about money, secrets, and consensual brother/sister incest among other things. I finally convinced my mother to buy it for me when I was starting the fifth grade. I read it many times, mostly for the sex scenes which provided my early sex education which explains way more than I want it to explain. But most importantly, I could relate to the claustrophobic environment that V.C. Andrews described and to the necessary element in any good book, the strangeness and familiarity of it.

I tricked myself into writing something longer than my usual short stories with Dead Girl, Live Boy. I told myself each was worked alone. Of course, they don't but I didn't need to know that fact. It kind of reminds me of the way I learned to swim --by someone edging farther and farther away from me until I could make it from one end of the pool to the other without realizing it. And I didn't set out to write anything I could imagine as remotely marketable. It was in all way the proverbial labor of love, a weird term to apply to such a dark book, but even so. I wrote about characters I loved and a city I love. I remember finishing it one winter Sunday afternoon in late February, reaching the edge of the pool before I even knew it was there.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them." ~A.A. Milne

Cocktail Hour
Weeds Season Six out on dvd today!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dead Girl, Live Boy

Hi everyone -- Dead Girl, Live Boy is available by Storylandia Press! Much thanks to the fastest and most wonderful editor in the world, Ginger Mayerson. The links to purchase are on my website page and here's the link to like it on Facebook. Thanks so much for all your reading and kindness . . . Happy Saturday!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Alibi

A little poem for this Thursday -- thanks for reading!

The Alibi

It seemed inevitable that I’d end up in a place
like this. Detroit, Michigan, 1999, a few years
away from thirty. The snow already gray, already
tired. The sign on the Tool and Dye shop next
door says, Forty Days Until Spring. A countdown.
My friend gets us two drinks at the bar where its happy
hour for another twenty minutes, although you’d never
know it from the grim-faced regulars. If you haven’t
guessed, it’s not the kind of place where they ask
what kind of vodka you want. Like everything else
in this city, you take what you’re given and then some.

On The Menu

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hi everyone! Thanks for the comments on Grouchie by Son House's grave! He's quite the ham, indeed.

Signs are everywhere, if you look. Today I carried an essay by my friend Hank across a busy intersection. I wanted a sign from him for a few days and of course, I get one on his most hated holiday. His essay blew all across the street, page by page. Nothing else in my bag escaped. A kind stranger helped me collect it, and neither one of us was hit by a car. Hi Hank! Happy VD day as he used to say.

Hank and I once attended an anti VD Day party together where someone confessed her love for him, someone locked herself in a bathroom with a bottle of vodka, crying over her lover (she was married, the man in question was not and therefore held the proverbial upperhand), our good friend's mother died a few hours before the party, and all hell broke loose (the all hell I'm not describing here). Anyway, another Valentine's Day down, right? So today, no matter what your romantic status, I wish you calm. If that's not likely, I wish you a sense of humor. It comes in handy, especially if there's a party involved. See you tomorrow!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seven Mile

In honor of Valentine's weekend, I offer you this picture of Baby Grouchie by Son House's grave. In the words of Son House, Only one kind of blues and that's the blues between a man and a woman in love. Amen, Son House. Preach it! Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Perfect Days

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the Detroit love on the Eminem ad. Best ad of the night! Here's a little Richard Brautigan for another cold day. See you tomorrow!

We Stopped At Perfect Days

We stopped at perfect days
and got out of the car.
The wind glanced at her hair.
It was as simple as that.
I turned to say something --

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Girl Talk

Ginger Rogers famously said that she had to do everything that Fred Astaire did except backward in high heels. This sentiment works better for me than Helen Reddy's anthem to femaleness, "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" as when I was in high school, all the boys changed the following lyric to "With an ass too big to ignore." Which brings me to weight, a topic I find galling in so many ways. Gaining it is akin to what missing church was in the old days (ie, my teenage years) where if you didn't attend for a few Sundays, people asked in that particular judging way, Where have you been? Losing it brings all sorts of laurels, albeit poisonous ones. When going through a bit of a relatively (and it's all relative)low period, I get the old "You look so much better" as if I had faced the ultimate moral showdown and won. When the scales are up, my stock is down, as if I had let Jesus stay up all night alone before His crucifixion. It's truly odd.

And it explains the popularity of shows like "The Biggest Loser" and "Heavy." Fight fat, win the war against Satan! To hear the trainers talk, obesity is the cause of all problems and not going to the gym is akin to letting Baby Jesus die on your cell phone if you don't forward Him after getting a text message version of what we used to call chain mail. I kind of miss the letters which had more examples of all the evils that would befall you if you didn't respond -- brain tumors, death, loss of money, etc. So here's my chain mail/text message -- Fuck all that! Don't worry about it. Let those sadistic trainers make other people cry. And women, whatever happens, be proud of that ass too big to ignore.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"No woman is required to build the world by destroying herself." Rabbi Sofer

Cocktail Hour
Memoir suggestion: Talking To Girls About Duran Duran Rob Sheffield

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Groundhog Day!

Here's another excerpt from a longer essay. Thanks for reading! Hope you're staying warm . . .

Two years before I was molested by the mortician who lived next door to us on 10th Street, my mother's parents, Charlie and Yvette, returned. Mother hadn't seen them since she was fifteen, when they had abandoned her and her grandmother, Mimi, in a trailer in Iowa. Charlie and Yvette left in the middle of the night while Mother and Mimi slept. They left one step ahead of a trail of debts, bad decisions, and people who meant them harm. They drove up to our house without any warning except for the sound Charlie's truck made that you could hear long before you saw it.

Charlie asked Dad for a beer which Dad fished out from the vegetable crisper, a PBR someone had left behind from one of my parents' parties, parties Mother insisted on throwing for her wide variety of friends, friends who defied almost all traditional categories of classification, but none who were adverse to spending late nights drinking vats of Wild Turkey and Blue Nun and then retiring to the sunken living room, entertaining themselves by conducting seances or trying to astral project.

Mother cried when she saw Yvette's face which resembled a boxer who had gone one too many rounds with a far stronger opponent. They promptly informed Mother that they had moved into a nearby trailer park, one of those places with a name more suited for a country club.

"What will you do?" asked Mother.

"Things that need to be done," Charlie replied. "People always need help."

Mother looked afraid, an expression I rarely saw on her pretty face. She picked up rattlesnakes and tarantulas from the roads. She told me stories about three name serial killers, about men who hid under cars and cut women's tendons so they couldn't run. I'd always been a nervous child, and she delighted in telling met that they were plenty of good reasons to be afraid.

"Do you want more?" Dad asked, pointing at the beer can.

"Sure," Charlie said. "I can always use more."

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Rita, I've come to the end of myself." Bill Murray, Groundhog Day

Cocktail Hour
Biography suggestion: Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter Randy Schmidt

Benedictions and Maledictions
No worries -- Baby Grouchie Jr. is safe and sound! No, he's not Baby Grouchie, he's the understudy which is probably explains the resentment on his face. The only time he gets to pose is when Baby Grouchie is too lazy, hungover, or cold to show his face.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snow Day!

Hi everyone -- here's Baby Grouchie's tiny little friend buried in the snow. More soon . . .