Archive for The Inner Swine

Cocksucker Blues: Profanity When Reading in Public

By | September 2, 2014 | 5 Comments

This initially appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 16, Issue 1/2 Summer 2010.

The glamorous life of a writer.

The glamorous life of a writer.

FRIENDS, I occasionally read from my fiction in public, which is surprising, since I am frequently drunk, pantsless, and belligerent. Since I am not a BIG STAR in the literary world, I almost never get to read all by myself, which is good because when I’m sharing a stage I can imagine that the audience hates the other readers and not, as would be my natural assumption otherwise, me.

Sharing the bill with other readers does however present me with another problem: Invariably, I am teamed up with writers who read beautiful, lyrical pieces of prose involving elves or Grey Aliens who contemplate the universe and seek enlightenment, and then I stand up and read a piece that is is 84% the words fuck and cocksucker.

COCKSUCKER BLUES

There is, simply, a lot of cursing in the Avery Cates books. Well, in all my fiction, actually, because, frankly, people curse in real life. I’ve been peppering my speech with cuss words since I was about nine years old, and I was a late bloomer in my neighborhood. I worry about it when I read in public, though; not because my audiences are filled with blue-haired old ladies who will die from shock—the people who actually attend any reading I do are quite prepared for a little cursing—but because I am the blue-haired lady in this scenario. Somehow I become all guilt-ridden and Catholic when I find myself having to shout cocksucker at the top of my voice in a room filled with strangers.

There are three approaches to this situation:

BOWDLERIZE

One, I can bowdlerize my own writing and replace every curse word with its prime-time equivalent, frick for fuck and all that jazz. This has the unfortunate side effect of making me resemble the berries and cream lad.

THE CURSE WHISPERER

Two, I can read the text as is but keep the volume low so I don’t feel like a nun is going to time travel from my past, rap my knuckles, and steal my pants.

GUSTO, MOTHERFUCKER!

Finally, I can read the text as is but emphasize every curse word with something that can only be described as gusto, delighting in the sudden freedom of being able to shout curses at a crowd and not be arrested. Generally I choose the latter as it promises the least humiliation, and everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

####

This hangup only exists when I’m reading out loud to people; when I’m writing I have no problem dropping language so foul it would make your nose hairs burn. In my everyday life I generally go around cloaked in what I have dubbed White Boy Politeness, which is a way of behaving towards people that generally makes folks want to rub your head and call you a good lad, even thirteen-year-old kids who would otherwise be knifing you for meth money.

curses2This sometimes causes a minor bout of mental dissonance when people meet me for the first time just prior to a reading. I am all, shucks, nice to meet you, did you know I was an Eagle Scout? And then I am all fuck you, cocksucker.

curses3Of course, this is nothing compared to my other public reading foible, which is spontaneous and inexplicable pantslessness. So if all you ever experience during one of my readings is some rough language, consider yourself: lucky.

American Wedding Confidential: Will The Real Best Man Please Stand Up?

By | August 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
Out Now. BUY IT.

Out Now. BUY IT.

Celebrating the publication of my darkly humorous novella The Ruiner (out now from Damnation Books at Amazon and B&N), I thought I’d repost this essay I once wrote for the zine.

In which I learn the explosive force of love.

About year ago this Thursday my old friend Emil got married and asked me to be his best man. Emil’s a good friend of The Inner Swine Inner Circle (TISIC) in general, and there was some resentment, jealousy, and harsh words concerning my elevation to Best Man status. There were also isolated incidents of violence. Eventually, Emil managed to cool tempers and remind the rest of TISIC that they were, above all else, contractually obligated to me in perpetuity. After that impassioned speech the members of TISIC retreated to their various abodes to scan the fine print of their contracts, only to return in much more manageable moods.

The Best Man has a lot of duties in the modern wedding. Whereas in the good old days he was merely a responsible member of the groom’s clan who vouched for the groom’s sanity, financial solvency, and lack of venereal diseases, these days the Best Man has lots to do: organize a bachelor party (I’m told it was a humdinger; personally I don’t remember much after that fifth body shot off of Lola the Stripper’s washboard stomach), deliver the viciously hungover groom to the actual wedding the next day (Emil still had his Emergency Room ID bracelet on), manage not to vomit during the ceremony, and then, finally, and most importantly, make a speech at the reception.

The Best Man’s Speech is supposed to accomplish a few minor but cherished conventions: it’s supposed to compliment the groom, his choice of bride, and form a verbal bridge between the carefree days of the groom’s prior friendships and the more complex but equally rewarding years of mature friendship to come. In other words, the Best Man’s job is to reassure the groom’s buddies that they will indeed see him from time to time despite the nag he’s chaining himself to, and to reassure the groom that his buddies will always be there to say mean things about his wife in private if he needs them to.

I worked very hard on my speech in the ambulance, riding with Emil to the ER after the bachelor party had taken a dramatic turn. The transcript which follows is taken from the wedding video, and more accurately reflects what was actually said than the scrawled speech written on cocktail napkins in the ambulance. I think I accomplished the goals of the Best Man’s Speech admirably:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and family, I’ve known Emil for sixteen years. When we met back in prison we didn’t like each other very much; he always wanted to pitch and I never let him. Being cellmates gave us time to get to know each other and by the time our parole hearing came up I was proud to stand next to him, hold his hand, and testify that we had each found Jesus and would dedicate our lives to upholding the laws of the land if we were released.

“In short, I’ve known Emil long and well. And in many ways, most of which I don’t wish to discuss here.
Over the years Emil and I have gone through a great many things and we’ve always supported each other: when my dog Skippy died, Emil was there to help me through it, tenderly digging a grave for poor Skippy and getting me drunk later that night before we traced the plate number of the car that hit Skippy and set it on fire, in revenge.

“When I became addicted to Internet Porn a few years ago, alienating my friends and family, losing my job, ending up at one point getting busted for public lewdness in The @ Café in New York City, Emil was the one who came to my apartment one July evening, knocked me cold and kidnapped me. Emil kept me in a cold, dark basement for six months, deprogramming me. To this day whenever I see a computer keyboard I shake and vomit helplessly. While this has caused me difficulty and unpopularity at work, it saved me: if not for Emil and the vicious torture he put me through in that basement, I would be in some asylum somewhere, trying to log onto from a pay phone.

“Emil has always been there for me, and I am pleased to be here for him today, the day he marries Petra.

“In the four and a half days I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Petra, I’ve realized that Emil’s life was but an empty and meaningless melange of sex, drugs, and progressive jazz music. In less than a week, she has become not only a dear friend of mine, but a dear friend of all the members of The Inner Swine Inner Circle, The Inner Swine being the magazine I publish which I really think you all ought to read and purchase subscriptions, because you see that large black guy in the back standing with several dozen men in fatigues? That’s Ken [REDACTED] and he’s going to be waiting for you after the reception, and all I can say is that he’s much nicer to people who have subscriptions than to anyone else, and I can also say that I have less and less influence over him every day.

“What? All right, all right, Emil, Jesus, calm the fuck down, okay?

“Anyway, as I was saying, Petra has not only redeemed Emil from his obvious descent into damnation and syphilitic degeneration, but she has entered and improved the lives of all of us. She’s a rare and delicate flower of womanhood, she’s a compassionate and beautiful creature who’s….energy and….emotion….and….and….ladies and gentlemen, I love her. Petra, I love you.

“I cannot stand here and pretend that everything is okay, while I am dying inside! Petra, I’ve been dying inside all these past few days! Ever since Tuesday night I’ve been tortured by my love for you, while you marry this troll, this monster, this syphilitic mistake masquerading as a man! Oh, the stories I could tell you! Emil, the whoremonger! Emil the petty thief! The man he killed in Mexico! The drugs he dealt to little kids while on work release! The Kiddie Porn! Oh, Petra, you’re making a mistake!

“Ladies and gentlemen, keep that madman away from me! Excuse me….pardon me….Ken! Help! Ladies and gentlemen, I beseech you! Petra! Petra!”

(At this point the audio becomes garbled as many voices intrude and the action on-screen gets a little hectic. Occasionally you can here me shouting “Not the face!” but I don’t think technically that’s part of the speech. At this point I felt the explosive power of love, and it certainly beat the shit out of me)

I often wonder what became of Emil and Petra. I suspect he still communicates with other members of TISIC, but none of the bastards will admit it, and the court order prevents me from finding out for myself. If anyone has heard of Emil and Petra’s whereabouts, please contact me. There’s money in it for you.

Mrs. Muse: My Wife Thinks She is a Rich Vein of Material

By | July 21, 2014 | 1 Comments

This article originally appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 15, Issue 3/4, Winter 2009.

My Main Reference Material

My Main Reference Material

“You should write about this.”

I hear this phrase pretty often, usually when I am complaining about something The Duchess is making me do, like watching terrible reality television or following her from store to store in an endless shopping mall. My hell, I am convinced, will be an infinite shopping mall filled with women’s clothing stores. I used to think my hell would involve dried up beer taps and indoor league football, but now I am older and wiser and the ways of the universe are clearer to me.

At first, early in our relationship, she only used The Line when she truly believed that what she was putting me through was Inner Swine material—like most people, she thought at first that being mentioned in my zine would be kind of cool. Everyone gets quickly disabused of that notion, trust me, and it wasn’t long before she demanded her name be obscured in all issues so no one might Google her and discover her secret shame: That she is married to: Me.

Nowadays, The Line has a new function for The Duchess: She uses it as a way to justify any activity, no matter how torturous I find it. No matter how horrified I am at the turn my life has taken, I am assured that it’s all right because I can write an article about it.

The Marathon Man

Now, my wife is a fascinating, intelligent, feisty girl who is endlessly entertaining, and if I did not live in abject fear of being punished by her (she is stronger, faster, and in better shape than I ever will be; she runs marathons and works out and eats healthy—I drink gallons of booze and the last time my heart rate went up I was watching a baseball game and almost had a stroke) her antics and adventures would make admirable material for this zine.

This is a compliment. The more interesting you are, the more likely you will eventually be in this zine, albeit sometimes obscured.

Since this zine is primarily about me, I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what this says about my healthy and possibly delusional self-image.

However, this is getting out of hand when she starts justifying just about any mistreatment of her husband with the assurance that someday I will be able to use it as material for this zine. I make shit up for this zine; I don’t need material. I can walk to the grocery store, buy a loaf of bread and walk home, and make that entire experience into an article for this zine. Actually, I don’t even have to leave the house; I can just sit on the couch and stare at a wall and six months later there’s an article in this zine called Staring at the Wall: I Am Old and Dulled by Liquor which will be just six pages of me insulting myself in clever ways. See how this works? No actual experiences needed. It’s like Sir Laurence Olivier said to Dustin Hoffman on the set of The Marathon Man when Hoffman showed up to film a torture scene looking like hell because he’d stayed up 48 hours straight in order to be suitably exhausted for the scene: “My dear boy, have you tried acting?”

WAYS THE DUCHESS USES “THE LINE” TO JUSTIFY CRUELTY

1. Bad Television. I’ve complained before about the quality of the television programming The Duchess enjoys. I don’t mind sharing a little TV time now and then, and the fact that she favors shows I don’t much care for is just the way things are—she doesn’t like most of my choices, so it’s fair. But there are some shows that are just so terrible, so awesome in their terribleness, that I try to wriggle out of my husbandly duties to watch them.
And then she hits me with The Line, suggesting that I should watch Two and a Half Men and then write about how horrible it is. And it is. Horrible. It is.

2. Shopping. I’ve already defined my new vision of hell for you. Believe me, I get to live it every now and then, and my wife actually apologizes to me whenever she lures me into a store these days. Then, after apologizing, she suggests that my many sufferings at her hands in the retail world would be perfect fodder for an Inner Swine article. Do you see what I’m up against? I’ve taken to carrying a flask with me everywhere just in case it turns out we’re not going to the local Beerfest as promised, but instead to a sample sale.

3. Travel. My childish aversion to exploring the world is famed, and I’m sure some folks feel badly for The Duchess in that she has to beg and plead to get me to leave the comfort of my own house. Whenever I find myself in some godforsaken part of the world, going rapidly broke and—adding insult to injury—usually being led into some sort of foreign mall in order to purchase shoes, The Line is invariably tossed out as an impromptu justification for my treatment.

You can see, I’m sure, why it is that I drink. When any kind of horrifying shit can be justified as comedy material, you’re doomed.

Of course, The Duchess only wields this power in order to educate and improve me—and, actually, since I am now using all of these experiences to create content for this zine, I suppose, in the end, she’d been right all along.

Categories: Bullshit, The Inner Swine

The Inner Swine Summer 2014

By | June 4, 2014 | 6 Comments

TIS 20-12As I sit here madly rapping Fancy by Iggy Azalea, I am very conscious of no longer being the hip young demographic that advertises love. Yet I still have things to say! Or, write. Many of these ideas are ill-advised and poorly formed, and so I keep them in a ghetto of my own choosing: My zine, The Inner Swine, established in 1993 and still going. For some reason.

As it is Summer time, it’s time for the Summer issue! And it has been released to Barnes and Noble and Amazon for your e-reading pleasure:

Nook

Kindle

Go and buy it. It’s just a DOLLAR for god’s sake, what are you, fancy?

(see what I did there? GENIUS.)

Categories: BAM!, 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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