Archive for The Inner Swine

Shut the Fuck Up, Donny

By | April 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Note: A version of this essay appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 4, Issue 2, circa 1998. I removed some meandering from the original essay but left in my juvenile abuse of dashes. You’re welcome. Also, 1998 was a hella long time ago and the Coen Brothers have released a lot of films since then, none of which factor into this essay.

MillerscrossingposterDislike and Disdain in the Films of the Coen Brothers

The Coen brothers, writers/directors/producers of the films Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, and The Big Lebowski, are, without any doubt, two of the biggest Swines to ever gain national distribution of their films. Put simply, The Coen’s absolute dislike and disdain for their fellow human beings is almost a palpable story element in every one of their films. They hate us. They make no bones about hating us. And we love them for it.

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FERAL 1970s CHILDREN BURN JERSEY CITY TO THE GROUND

By | March 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

This essay originally appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 17, Issue 1/2, Summer 2011.

Growing Up Somewhat Unsupervised
by Jeff Somers

IN 2008, newspaper columnist Lenore Skenazy wrote a column about letting her nine-year old son take the New York City Subway alone, without an adult. I don’t recall the details—where the damn kid was going—and can’t be bothered to research them. I do recall that it was a bit of a kerfluffle, because apparently in this sad modern age that’s insane, because as we all know the streets of New York (any major city, really) are lined with perverts and slave traders looking to either sell your child to Africa or engage in some CSI-style murderin’ with them.

This has since evolved into a ‘movement’ called Free Range Kids, which advocates letting kids organize their own free time and minimizing parental supervision and intervention in their lives. The idea being that this will cause kids to grow up super self-reliant and confident. Assuming they are not murdered or sold into slavery, of course. Although I’d like to imagine that some of the kids sold into slavery emerge years later as criminal masterminds on par with Keyser Soze or as Black Pirate Roberts types, hijacking cargo ships off the coast of Somalia.

I don’t have kids, and I don’t presume to tell parents how to raise their children. If you think your kid needs to be supervised constantly and should never be allowed to be alone, even in the bathroom, even while they sleep, until they’re approximately 24 years old, that’s fine. I have nothing to say, and heck, maybe you’re right. Maybe this kind of supervision will make your kid feel loved and safe and ensure they survive to the age of 24 without being, you know, murdered or kidnapped. Who knows? On the other hand, Free Ranging it feels better to me, because it’s closer to my own childhood.

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Don’t Be Eaten by Bears: Your Humble Editor Has an Adventure

By | January 13, 2014 | 1 Comments

Note: The events described here happened exactly ten years ago, when I was a much younger man with a healthier liver and better dance moves. It previously appeared in the March, 2004 issue of The Inner Swine.

This is how I remember it.

This is how I remember it.

PIGS, personally I believe that exercise is probably stunting our race’s evolution. Only a few decades ago it was easy to imagine that in a few thousand years the human race would transform into ugly, huge-brained beings with scrawny, useless bodies and huge, pulsing craniums trembling on narrow chicken-necks. The combination of increased automation and developing psionic powers looked likely to make any kind of physical effort unnecessary, and the slow, rubbing fingers of evolution would take over and mold us into the Superbeings we were destined to be. We’d use our immense brains to move mountains with a thought, to communicate instantly via thoughtwave, and repel invasions by the hideous Apes from Planet of the Apes by joining hands and concentrating our immense mental powers.

And then, this glorious future got ruined. By exercise.

Suddenly, people somehow didn’t want their muscles to atrophy, their limbs to wither, their heads to swell up horribly. Suddenly, people wanted to live longer, and in better health, than ever before. A wave of terrible fitness swept over the world, a sort of global inanity wherein people did crazy things like running when there was no need to run (like, say, because a hungry bear was chasing you) and lifting heavy things over and over again despite the fact that there were no jealous Greek gods forcing them to do so. It was madness, and I was born right at its beginning, so by the time I reached maturity many of the people I knew had been swept up in the chaos. My own wife, The Duchess, quite cruelly partakes in this healthful exercise on a constant basis, tormenting me with her marathon running and ability to cross the room without getting out of breath. Do you see? I’ve been betrayed by my own wife.

All this physical exercise has undoubtedly ruined any chances we had of evolving into hideous brain creatures. Our DNA’s been keeping track, and as our collective muscles get used more and more, more and more evolutionary grease is sent their way, trust me. Now, instead of being able to float things through the air with brain power, our descendants will merely be able to run longer and faster. This depresses me, and causes me to drink, which in turn causes me to wander out into the rain, shouting things, pass out, and wake up in a gutter without my pants. Blame evolution, dammit.

So, when The Duchess suggested that what was missing from our relationship was a good old fashioned hiking trip, I was dubious. Personally, I’m all for staying home and trying to make my own psychic powers manifest all on their own, through a demanding regimen of trying to float beers from the kitchen into the living room. So far, no success, but I am fully confident.

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Categories: Bullshit, The Inner Swine

Writing Under the Red Gaze of the Single Unblinking Eye of Facebook

By | January 4, 2014 | 2 Comments

declineBack when I still put a print version of my zine The Inner Swine out, I once wrote an essay about someone I knew that wasn’t particularly complimentary. I didn’t know this person very well, but in my essay I portrayed them (accurately!) as an insane person more than likely to kill me, dry my meat, and make me into sausage or something like that.

And then, much to my chagrin, this insane person requested a copy of the zine. That particular issue, in fact. I realized that if I gave them the issue as it was, I would soon wake up in a pit with the Crazy One telling me it puts the lotion on its skin as it lowered a basket down to me. So, I did what any coward does: I created a single special issue of the zine with the offending article replaced by something else and handed it to Crazy One with a straight face. As the Somers Family Motto goes, Congratulations on a Job: Done.

Of course, I was only able to save my skin in this way because of the primitive time this took place in, a glorious time before social media, before Facebook, before Twitter. Because if I write something viciously meanspirited, completely unfair and yet totally fucking hilarious today, the Crazy Ones out there will see it no matter what I do, become enraged, and arrive on cue to kidnap me in their Rape Vans and imprison me in their Karmic Penalty Boxes. Or just punch me in the nose.

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The! Inner! Swine!

By | December 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

1934_coverIt’s that time again, kids: The Winter 2013 Issue of The Inner Swine is out! Here’s the TOC from the issue, which has a vague theme of faith:

EDITORIAL: It’s All Downhill From Here, Isn’t It?
AMERICAN HORROR STORY:  America’s Got No Fucking Idea
FROM THE BLOG:  Where Gone Home Went Wrong
FROM THE BLOG: Writing as a Reader
FROM THE BLOG: Essays about Breaking Bad
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: America’s Next Idiot Model
COMMENTARY: THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY
COMMENTARY: How to Survive the Crushing Inevitability of Your Own Death
FROM THE BLOG:  Sinister Horror Clichés
FICTION: Up the Crazy
FROM THE BLOG:  The Freaks are Winning Part 65,678

HUZZAH! Available ONLY on Nook and Kindle, sadly, but well worth the 99 cents, bubba, if I do say so myself.

Categories: BAM!, The Inner Swine

In Praise of Wasted Time

By | November 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

This originally appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 12, Issue 4

FRIENDS, as loyal readers of TIS you know well that I am obsessed with time and its ravages upon me. All intelligent beings should be obsessed with time, because that’s time behind you, fucking you in the ass on a daily basis. And then you’re dead and buried, my friend—because Time finally killed you—Time will still be there, and will still be fucking you in the ass, for a while at least, as it takes your comely form and transforms it into a horrorshow of bugs, rot, and general decomposition.

So, normally I go around whining a lot about wasted time. I hate to waste time. I hate to stand in lines and will gladly go elsewhere to avoid it—people who will stand in line for things mystify me. Like taverns—who in fuck waits in line for a bar? Idiots, I think. Idiots who don’t realize that the same booze and the same quality of drunken, morally-loose people exists just about anywhere that a bottle of Jagermeister is kept. Or coffee—the lines at Starbucks enrage me. The other day I was at an airport and went seeking coffee, and the line outside Starbucks was wrapped around the fucking concourse, while two or three other coffee sources were abandoned. Starbucks coffee sucks balls, but if you actually like it, is it really so much better than all other coffee in the world that you’d rather stand in line and waste some of your precious life staring at the ass of the stranger in front of you than just take a chance on another brand of coffee?

That’s the power of brands, I guess, the lure of having everything be exactly the same all the time, guaranteed, but that’s the subject of a different article, isn’t it.

No, I go to great lengths, usually, to avoid wasting my time—but it can’t always be avoided. Sometimes you have to sit in waiting rooms, or on airplanes, or at your desk at work. Sometimes you have to speak with your fellow humans for long periods of time during which all your mental energy is used up maintaining faked interest in the conversation and imaging your head exploding, splattering brains and blood everywhere. Sometimes you’re informed that you’ve already called in sick twenty-three times this year and one more will mean your dismissal. Sometimes, like it or not, you simply have to waste some of your precious time. Think of time-wasting as if Time were blood. Imagine you sometime have to tear open a vein and spill some blood, and that you could never regenerate the blood you lose, so that someday you’d spill too much, run dry, and die. That’s the way to think about wasting time.

I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding time-sucking scenarios, or at least at modifying them to my advantage. Once you realize you’re an adult and can make your own decisions, you can trim down the wastage pretty fast simply by choosing not to do things—like waiting in lines unless absolutely necessary. You do, after all, have full power over your life in some sense, so you can structure everything around not wasting time, from your job to your home life. Go for it.

Me, I’m too sleepy. I handle not wasting time by transforming it into time well-used. While I firmly believe I am the first human smart enough to have thought of this (a few ultra-smart Dolphins have probably already invented this), there is always the possibility that other geniuses are applying this technique quietly across the globe. I will ignore this possibility, however, and claim it as my own. The trick is simple: Always have something constructive to do with you. Me, I’m a writer, so I bring a notebook, a book, and sometimes a laptop. These amazing tools allow me to transform just about any otherwise wasted moment into a productive one, doing something I love.

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Free eBooks

By | August 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

SO, in my ongoing attempts to draw your attention to my novel Chum, out from Tyrus books on 9/18, I’ve put together two free eBooks over one Smashwords that are either directly or tangentially connected to Chum:

Up the Crazy by Jeff Somers - a Lifers/Chum crossover.

Up the Crazy by Jeff Somers – a Lifers/Chum crossover.

Up the Crazy is a crossover short story. Crossover of what? Well, Chum and my first published novel Lifers share a universe and, briefly, some characters. They also share some scenes and characters from other novels I wrote, but since those remain unpublished they remain Novels Whose Titles Shall Not be Mentioned As They Are Meaningless to Everyone Not Named Jeff Somers.

So, anyways, I thought it would be fun to explore one point where the stories of Chum and Lifers intersect a bit a more fully, and wrote a “deleted chapter” from Lifers. It’s not necessary to have read either book to enjoy the story. Here’s a few lines from it:

“Trim, naturally, had a complete speech about Florence, the kind of speech Trim gave from time to time that convinced you he had dossiers on all of us with pre-canned speeches prepared for all occasions. The speeches were also curiously filled with strange stresses and obscure words and this also led me to believe they were basically toneless, rhythmless, rhymeless poems, the kind that Trim specialized in.

Florence, Trim told me, was too much woman for most men. She was tall. She was busty. She was, he insisted, a giantess – everything in proportion, but simply too much of it. It was overwhelming for most men, he said. Add to that red hair and a fuck yeah Florence! kind of attitude which gave her incredible confidence despite being a girl Trim was certain had been mercilessly mocked in her school days for being three or four times normal size, and you had a girl who intimidated all the men in her life and was therefore inexplicably single.”

American Wedding Confidential by Jeff Somers

American Wedding Confidential by Jeff Somers

American Wedding Confidential is a collection of essays from my zine The Inner Swine about the weddings I attended. I’ve been to a lot of weddings, at first as a sort of gigolo emergency wedding date for my single girl friends, and later as escort to The Duchess as everyone we knew in the universe got married one after the other. Weddings are, generally speaking, the most horrible way you can spend an evening, so I started writing darkly humorous essays about my experiences. Fifteen of them are collected here.

Why? Well, a lot of the action in Chum takes place at a disastrous wedding, so there’s your tangential connection. That’s about it, really, although you can well imagine that much of my inspiration for the wedding scenes in Chum came directly from my terrible experiences at the weddings described in American Wedding Confidential.

Here’s a sample:

 “I may have forgotten to explore an equally important facet of the swinging gigolos wedding experience: the dark side.

Oh, it’s there. I didn’t think so myself until a few years ago. Behind the free booze, between the drunkenly wanton bridesmaids, hidden by the blinding light of the camera capturing the Loco-Motion forever, eternally, winks the grinning leer of The Darkness, waiting for some sucker in a bad suit like me to innocently wander in. I started my long, slow walk into the darkness when Insane Co-worker #23 invited me to her friend’s wedding one day, about five minutes after she’d told me she liked me a whole lot and I’d blithely given her the memorized and oft-used (believe it or not) “we’re better off being friends but I will always be there for you” speech. Usually when I give that speech I mean it, and I meant it at that moment; even though I am running the other way as fast as I can whenever someone wants to date me, I usually do want to be just friends.

I hadn’t yet realized that Insane Co-worker #23 was, well, insane.”

Chum by Jeff Somers

Chum by Jeff Somers

Huzzah! Both are absolutely free and available in whatever format you prefer — go for it! Both are also rather poorly formatted and rife with errors, but then you wouldn’t expect anything less from me, would you? Now, go buy Chum before I burst into tears.

DON’T LOOK AT ME I’m Hideous

By | July 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

(This originally appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 15, Issue 2)

Look at me and despair.

Look at me and despair.

PIGS, despite my superstar good looks and obvious gifts, I’ve never been a gadfly. When I was a kid I was kind of shy and nerdy (shocking! I know); although I have very few horror stories from my childhood to scar me. According to Hollywood movies I should have been the Piggy character in my own story: Glasses, chubby, uncoordinated, and permanent squint from reading too much in the dark. Somehow, though, I had a great childhood. I am walking evidence that Hollywood clichés are not always based in truth—if you believe all the movies and TV shows, high school is a Thunderdome of Nerds Vs. Cools, with the Nerds emerging broken and traumatized to enter into decades of therapy and the Cools emerging into comfy CEO positions. Sure, my high school had cliques and I had a few painful incidents [1] in my youth—who hasn’t?—but nothing too damaging.

Or maybe I’m in denial and I’ve repressed memories so deep they’ve disappeared, because I did emerge from my childhood with a healthy distrust of all of you and a conviction that everyone makes fun of me the moment I leave the room. Aside from the fear of mockery, I also fear violence, convinced that strangers on the street are going to lunge at me suddenly and attempt to garrote me or stab me with their ballpoint pens, probably while screaming gibberish at me. Or maybe screaming something about owing them money, which I get a lot of.

Either way, I fear all of you.

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Old Man Bars Are My Eventual Destination

By | July 10, 2013 | 8 Comments

This essay originally appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 14, Issue 4.

Just five more minutes of sleep, and then I get my shit together.

Just five more minutes of sleep, and then I get my shit together.

Here’s a horrifying scenario: I meet some friends at a local restaurant for drinks. Not a place of my choosing, because despite my best efforts I have not yet been able to bend people to my will simply by focusing my thoughts on them, though research continues. The waitress comes for drink orders and the following exchange occurs:

WAITRESS: What’ll it be, folks?

ME: What whiskeys do you have back there?

WAITRESS: Uh. . .some. . .uh. . .we have. . .er, bottles.

ME: Johnny Walker Black, neat.

I’ve come to recognize the sort of fear and blank-minded panic on the faces of waiters, waitresses, and bartenders when I enquire about their booze selections that indicates they either have no idea what’s back there or that there’s not much back there to begin with. Whenever I spot this sort of panic, I immediately give up my quest for single-malt goodness because it will only end in tears, and fall back on either Johnny Walker or Jack Daniels, because there isn’t a bar in the fucking world that doesn’t have those.

Now, there’s nothing really wrong with Johnny Walker. As blended whiskeys go, it’s a fine dram and I can always get by on it. But it has come to represent defeat to me, because I know there are bars, at least in New York City, where you can stroll in and order just about any decent whiskey you can think of and it will be brought to you, posthaste. Having been in such heavenly places, it is always a difficult transition to regular bars, where most people drink wine or beer or mixed drinks, and if they do go for an unadulterated spirit it’s blended Scotch or American Bourbon.

Again, nothing wrong with good old American Bourbon. I like quite a bit of it. But I feel handcuffed in such situations, because, goddammit, I want what I want.

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Categories: Bullshit, The Inner Swine

The Inner Swine Volume 11, Issue 3, The Entire Issue

By | June 24, 2013 | 0 Comments
A few years ago I wanted to challenge myself a little with my zine project, so I decided that the next issue’s theme would be minutiae and then I decided that the issue would eschew formal articles and just be a stream-of-consciousness examination of the minutiae of my life. I think it kind of worked. So, here’s the entire issue of Volume 11, Issue 3 of The Inner Swine, which published in September, 2005. It’s about 25,000 words written by a guy I no longer am.

Minutiae. I am standing on the corner of 30th street and 7th avenue, desperate for coffee. I’m here just about every weekday, on my way to work, and I buy my coffee from a very pleasant Arabic man in a cart. I like his coffee, and he’s incredibly friendly. For the past ten years I have bought all my coffee from these sorts of carts in New York City, and the coffee is always good, the carts always owned by Arabic men, and these Arabic men are always very friendly. I’ve been in other cities that have no equivalent to the coffee cart on the street, places where you have to purchase your coffee from someplace horrible, like Starbucks, or Au Bon Pain or something. That’s not civilization. That’s corporate domination. What this country needs is more Arabic men selling cheap but delicious coffee out of metal carts.

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