Archive for Bullshit

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

Announcing the Mystery Box Giveaway

By | July 14, 2014 | 3 Comments

Kids, you may not know this, but as a published author it sometimes seems like you’re paid in free copies of your own books (sometimes literally: I received 1/3rd of my advance for my first novel Lifers literally as a bunch of free books). Then, sometimes, a publisher goes out of business or lets a book go out of print and then offers to sell you your own book stock for some ridiculous price, like a quarter a book, and so you buy approximately 500,000 of them because you can’t sleep at night thinking of your precious books being mulched.

End result? I have a lot of books that I wrote sitting around here. So, let’s give some away, want to? Here’s how it will work:

EVERY WEDNESDAY for the time being, I will send out a Tweet that says “Book Giveaway” (just those two words). The FIRST person to respond to that tweet will win a Mystery Box of books. It’s that simple. I’ll DM you for your address, and in a few days you get a Mystery Box of books.

What’s in the mystery box? IT IS A MYSTERY. It could be one book or five, and lord knows what the books will actually be. All that you can know is that they are all by me, and I’ll sign them, and there might be bookmarks and such included. I cannot even guarantee they will be in English, as I have a surprising number of German-language Avery Cates books lying around.

But you can’t choose which books to get and therefore you may be bitterly disappointed when you receive your Mystery Box and be moved to come to New Jersey and burn my house down. Which is fine, as it would be free publicity as I am filmed in front of my burning house holding five cats with tears streaming down my face. I believe that would be a recipe for INSTANT PITY BOOK SALES, so have at it.

That’s it. The Mystery Book Tweet could happen at any time between the hours of 8AM and 6PM EST on Wednesdays, until I announce the end of this thing I am doing. Good luck!

Briefing for a Descent into Freelance

By | July 9, 2014 | 6 Comments
This is why I drink.

This is why I drink.

ONE of the reasons I kind of hate doing “writerly” events is the repetition of small talk effect: You wind up making the same small talk with other writers and non-writers alike. I’ve had a variation on the following conversation roughly one billion times (some of the following may only have occurred in my head):

OTHER: So, are you published?

ME: Don’t you KNOW who I AM? I will smite thee with this old manual typewriter I carry everywhere!

OTHER: Cool, cool. Is writing, like, your full time job?

ME: I’m not wearing any pants. Do I look like a man who has income?

In other words, all these conversations quickly establish that the other person has never heard of me (indicating my book sales) and then requires of me some sort of financial disclosure.

Up until a few years ago I was one of the Day Job Writers, just like 99.9% of all of us. I wrote and was published (pretty well) but I had a day job. Then in 2012 my day job and I had a disagreement and we decided to see other people. The disagreement, I think, had something to do with the fact that I last paid conscious attention to my Day Job in 2009, but at least I wasn’t the guy who got fired from my company because he sat in on a conference call with his webcam accidentally switched on while wearing no shirt. True story.

But I digress.

After breaking up with my day job I hurriedly called my agent to ask whether I had coincidentally gotten rich in the last few hours. Being informed that this did not happen, I knew I needed to replace my day job revenues somehow, or my wife The Duchess was going to ask me to leave the premises. She’s old school, you see, and thinks men should have jobs. No matter how often I’ve explained to her that I am a Modern Beta Male who is 100% okay with being supported by his wife, she just boxes my ears and shoves a classifieds section into my hands.

BUT! I had a bold idea. The only skill I have ever demonstrated in my whole life, the only thing I can actually say I am good at, is writing. In fact, the list of things I am not good at is pretty much infinitely long. The list of things I am good at has, at most, five things, and four of them are curious physical abnormalities I’ve never been able to monetize. So I said, I could write freelance.

(more…)

Reasons Why You Should Join the WANGP Street Team

By | June 1, 2014 | 33 Comments
Street Team

Street Team

SO, on October 7, 2014, the world will change forever. Well, not really. What’s actually going to happen is my next novel, We Are Not Good People, will be released. Whether or not I spend 2015 dancing on street corners for nickels or ordering rounds of drinks for strangers as I blaze, briefly, in alcoholic splendor before doctors arrive to harvest my ruined body for parts, depends entirely on what happens in the bookstores and online venues in the days and weeks afterwards.

In the past, with the Avery Cates novels, I organized a Street Team (organized may be a strong word here) to help with promotion, and we had a lot of fun, so I’m doing the same, gathering blackguards and bravos from around the world to help make it seem like a passably good idea to spend money on my book. And I want you to join the Street Team. It will be ever so much fun.

We have a forum: http://wearenotgoodpeople.freeforums.net/

The book has a website: www.wearenotgoodpeople.com

I understand your hesitation. I am a notably unreliable author who is easily distracted by glasses of booze and things like videos of kittens acting surprised. So, here are

REASONS TO BE ON THE WANGP STREET TEAM

  1. You love me. You may not realize it, but you do.
  2. You fear me and know if my writering career goes south I will start showing up at your door, begging for a couch to sleep on.
  3. There will be swag — free books, signed things, T-shirts, bookmarks, anything else we cook up to give away or what have you, Street Team members will get first dibs. In the past every member got a T-shirt or a hat and some other stuff just for being awesome.
  4. Meet new people! Who are not me pretending to be other people just to make my Street Team seem huge and imposing, promise.
  5. All Street Team members pat and present earn the Right of Cocktails, which means they can march up to me at any time under any circumstances and, once they’ve identified themselves, demand that I buy them a drink, and I will.
  6. Did I mention the swag?
  7. The forum is there to exchange ideas and suggestions, so if you’ve ever wanted to humiliate and destroy me publicly (and who hasn’t) here is your chance. Why not suggest I dress up in a pig outfit and dance on your lawn? Because if everyone on the Street Team votes for it, I will totally do that.
  8. The abbreviation of We Are Not Good People is WANGP, so you get to throw around the word “Wang” a lot and no one can complain.

    The Pork Avenger (Artist's Conception)

    The Pork Avenger (Artist’s Conception)

  9. Someday, when they decide to make a documentary about me (most probably because I snap mentally in 2016 and start showing up in public in a pig outfit and dancing, eventually becoming known as The Pork Avenger) they will totally come to interview you about it.
  10. Because I am dancing for right now, even though you can’t see it. And also weeping. How can you be so cruel?

So there you have it. There’s no official sign up or anything — just participate. Send me your contact info via email or message, let me know you’re interested, join the forum and say hello and suggest things. What can you suggest? Well, anything:

  • If you know of a bookstore that would love to have me come read, let me know.
  • Ideas for swag or giveaways
  • Ideas for digital graphics that I could create and distribute
  • Forums or other sites that people could post on
  • Ways to tweet and post about the books (or my other books), write reviews, or otherwise spread the word

Or, just lurk until something gets suggested that appeals to you. Literally, anything you want to do is appreciated and I’ll be extremely grateful for.

Onward! I’ve just discovered I will have to have my Pork Avenger outfit let out a little. I’m … not a young man any more.

X Men: Days of Future Past

By | May 29, 2014 | 3 Comments
Kitty Pride Indeed

Kitty Pride Indeed

Let’s say you have a time machine. What would you change? Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you would go back in time and buy me a drink that one time when you refused to buy me a drink because I kept mispronouncing your name and then braying like a donkey, clearly implying that I knew I was mispronouncing your name. But looking back you realize I deserved that drink, and because I was sober I went on a rampage of writing novels and you hate to see me successful, so you figure: I’ll go back and buy him a drink and he’ll get drunk and step in front of a bus and die.

Don’t worry. It’s a common desire. I get that a lot.

So, you acquire a time machine via Dark Arts or Black Ops or what have you. How do you go about putting this plan into motion? Do you

A. Set the controls for the evening we were together, walk into the place just as Past You heads for the bathroom, and do the deed? or

B. Set the controls for the day I was conceived and totally cock-block my Dad? or

C. Set the controls for a week earlier and spend your time moving objects and leaving notes for friends and family, subtly arranging them like pieces on a board to ensure that Past You doesn’t make it to the bar that evening so you can impersonate yourself, and then put more work hours into making certain that my favorite liquor is stocked behind the bar, and then even more work into several side projects, including releasing a dangerous gorilla from the zoo to terrorize the neighborhood so the bar won’t be too crowded, except I have a deadly fear of gorillas and so now Past Me isn’t coming to the bar, and you have to reveal yourself to Past You and team up to kidnap me and literally pour booze down my throat, accidentally burning down Hoboken, NJ in the process?

If you chose “C,” you may be Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg, or Matthew Vaughn, the people who wrote X-Men: Days of Future Past. SPOILERS HO.

Sweet Jesus, I’m an Asshole

So, time travel movies tend to be ridiculous. Here’s a Pro Tip: Time Travel is not magic. It’s not supposed to be magic, at least – it’s supposed to be a manipulation of a measurable aspect of our physical world. As a result, they should have what we professional thinkers call “internal logic.” The rest of the world calls this making any damn sense.

XMDOFP Makes a valiant attempt to make some damn sense. The method of time travel is the typical mumbo-jumbo, but at least avoids someone actually building a time machine in favor of mental gymnastics, which has a nice simplicity to it, in my opinion. The basic premise is this: In 1973 Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinates a scientist/industrialist, setting in motion a present-day where the world has been destroyed by “Sentinels” that hunt anyone with even a single mutant gene. On the verge of being exterminated, the final remaining mutants gather to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, whose arms and chest are a special effect that made me doubt my sexual orientation) back to his body in 1973 to stop her. To do so, they decide he must find Professor X (Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy) and Magneto (Ian McKellan/Michale Fassbender) to persuade her not to kill her target.

So, let’s run this through the insanity machine: On the one hand, you have the entire world destroyed an enslaved by horrible Sentinels. Weighed against that is the single mutant who causes the chain reaction in the first place. Solution: Kill Mystique, preferably a few years before 1973. Film over within ten minutes, the rest of the running time is Jackman doing one-handed push-ups while the rest of the cast cheers.

But no, they decide that despite the fact that the entire world destroyed an enslaved by horrible Sentinels Mystique, the woman who unknowingly caused this awful future, is far too important to kill. So they decide to spend a few days trying to track her down and convince her to not exact vengeance on this man. And for some reason, for some unknowable reason, they send Wolverine back to just a few days before her terrible act.

Wait. Why?

You are sending him back in time. For fuck’s sake, send him a few months back, give him some room to operate. Okay, to be fair, the implication is that he’s only back in his 1973 body for as long as Kitty Pride is actively manipulating him with her mutant powers, so the idea that she could do that for months is probably crazy. Except of course that she does do it for several days, because in 1973 Wolverine travels around quite a bit, and a lot of plot happens, and so we must assume Kitty pride knelt there holding her hands over Wolverine’s head for two, maybe four days. Without eating or drinking. Or bathroom breaks. Sure. Why not.

Okay! So maybe they had to send him back with just days to spare. Stipulated. I may have been drunk while watching this movie anyway. But! Here is the next complicating factor: Despite having just a few days to accomplish this goal, they spend a great deal of time breaking young Magneto out of his plastic prison. Because Old Magneto, despite knowing for a fact that he was a complete asshole back in 1973, insisted he would be necessary to convince Mystique. Which proves to be completely untrue, and it doesn’t matter anyway because Magneto immediately begins acting like the complete asshole he was in 1973.

In other words, if Old Magneto had said: Hey, listen, I was kind of a jerk back then and probably wouldn’t help you, better leave me out of it, the movie’s forty minutes long and the rest of the running time is spent giving Halle Berry a reason to be in the movie in the first place.

Man, I’m not, you know, Magneto-old. He appears to be 40 in 1973, so that makes Sir Ian McKellan 80 years old, which is … about right. In 1973 I was 2. But I can remember, for example, what kind of jerkass I was when I was 18. If you time-traveled back to when I was 18 and asked me to do anything that inconvenienced me in the least, I would yawn and pretend to be asleep. I know this. So if we were hatching plans to save the world that involved time-traveling back to me at 18 and getting my help, I would raise my hand and say guys – bad idea. I was kind of an asshole back then.

You know, instead of producing a plot thread that exists solely to expand the story to an appropriate film-length.

We won’t even get into the fact that Wolverine drowns, except doesn’t, and then magically wakes up in a shiny new future with no memory of the previous 40 years … for some unknowable reason. The metaphysics in this movie? not so hot. Sure, the movie’s fun. It also takes itself a little too seriously, and has an enormous number of continuity problems just with the other films. But Quicksilver was fun. I love that guy.

The Inner Swine Guide to Ignorance Episode 7

By | May 27, 2014 | 0 Comments
(This originally appeared in Brutarian Quarterly #53; for a while I wrote a column there about ignorance in general and my ignorance in specific. It was a lot of fun and I figure I’ll post them here now and again.)

Episode Seven: Monetizing Ignorance

Use As Instructed.

Use As Instructed.

FRIENDS, lord knows there are plenty of things I wish I could forget. Like the time in High School when I got really drunk and. . .well, actually, that covers most of High School, so it might be best to delete those seven years entirely. Or the time in college when I got really drunk and. . .well, actually, those are eight sloshy years that are best forgotten altogether as well, filled with bitterness and heartache, unrequited love and poor diet choices.

The point is, there’s plenty of terrible, hurtful memories I’d like to get rid of, most of which involve large groups of people laughing and pointing while I weep. This is where you realize that ignorance, often relegated to insult-comedy and character assassination, can actually have a beneficial affect on your life. Ignorance is not always a Bad Thing, in other words. Properly channeled, it could be one of the greatest medical advances ever.

Consider, if you will, the debilitating effect knowledge has on all of us. Terrible knowledge. Knowledge of pain and suffering, of humiliations and consequences, of evil and of pain. It’s a wonder any of us attempt anything after the age of twenty-five. The fact that any adult is in any way functional I put down to the glory of alcohol abuse, although I freely admit the negative affects of such a lifestyle often cancel out whatever false courage The Drink gives you. If we could simply delete unwanted memories whenever we liked, think of how much extra courage you would have on a daily basis? I mean, I wonder to myself what kind of superman would I be if I didn’t have this memory of being promoted to Senior Patrol Leader of my Boy Scout Troop when I was fourteen and entering into a six month slide of Epic Fail that resulted in me shying away from any hint of authority or responsibility ever since. Man, if I didn’t have that terrible memory—which involved the scorn and derisive humor of not only the former SPL whose position I inherited, but of the adult Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters as well—I might have actually become ambitious in my life. I’d probably already be ruling the world, except for that panic-inducing experience.

Now, because of my ill-fated attempt to be a teenaged authority figure, I flee any sort of responsibility, and I live in Hoboken with four cats instead of in some secret underground base with an army of mercenaries ready to die for my cause.

Imagine, though, if I could erase that memory and start fresh. Wake up tomorrow and no longer have any idea that taking on a leadership position might lead to humiliation and horror! Sort of like in that movie The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, except instead of erasing bad relationships, erasing any kind of bad experience that now makes you think twice before doing something. In other words, not so much erasing a memory as inserting ignorance. Ignorance which then acts to protect you from fear.

After all, why do most of us refuse to do things—say, mainline heroin, or jump out of a plane without a parachute? Simple: We know the consequences and choose to avoid them. But what if we didn’t know the consequences? That’s right: We’d be superman. And, yes, most likely dead within a very short period of time. But like the Replicants in Blade Runner, we’d be gods for that very short period of time, wouldn’t we? Unstoppable, completely without any common sense or fear of dismemberment.

####

Of course, I am old and dissipated by Drink. The world has likely passed me by, and it’s too late to save me—besides, my list of humiliations which have scarred me into terminal passivity is far too long. You’d pretty much have to delete my personality entirely and reboot me as a thirty-seven year-old infant. Which no one wants. So I must instead bend my intelligence and severe lack of restraint on helping the world altruistically, using my immense fortune and bottomless resources to invent The Inner Swine Bad Memory Redactor.

THE INNER SWINE BAD MEMORY REDACTOR (BMR)

The design of the Implement is, of course, pretty simple, and some might say that I’ll never get a patent as there is ubiquitous prior art. That doesn’t matter—the important part about the Bad Memory Redactor is in its proper use. If you learn where to apply the BMR and with what amount of force, you can surgically remove specific memories with complete accuracy and almost no negative side effects. For the purposes of this essay we are not counting the memory loss as a negative side effect, of course.

The procedure is simple: Based on detailed phrenologic diagrams supplied wit the the BMR, you simply select the spot on the head which will delete the appropriate memory. Then have your subject concentrate on that memory until it is all they are thinking of, filling all of their thoughts. Then you rear back and give an accurate but forceful smack with the implement. Like magic, the memory is deleted.

Think about what you could do if you didn’t know everything you know! Have trust issues? Burn out a few traumatic experiences from your childhood and ta-da! You’ll be a trusting, secure person. Fall out of a tree when you were five and get the heebies every time you’re up high? One expert swing of the BMR and you might realize your secret dream of being an acrobat. Haunted by dreams of being naked in front of crowds? One quick, slightly excruciating application of the BMR in expert hands and you’ll be break-dancing on stage in front of thousands in no time.

####

Ignorance does not have to be solely an affliction—it can be used as a tool as well, the same way debilitating alcohol consumption can help you through trauma even as it rots your brain and destroys your liver. Certainly you don’t want to be deleting every single bad memory you have—aside from making you incredibly dull and probably doomed to an early death due to your complete and impenetrable ignorance, the repeated head traumas would probably result in some semiserious and somewhat permanent brain damage. But for dealing with the occasional phobia-inducing searing hell of a memory, it’s genius. I’ll start the rates at $1500 per treatment, medical bills not included, though I will throw in a free ride-and-dump to the local Emergency Room if you fail to regain consciousness within an hour. Which hardly ever happens, trust me.

The Definition of Insanity

By | May 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

This originally appear in The Inner Swine Volume 19, Issue 3/4

Author's Self-Portrait

Author’s Self-Portrait

Going to the Internet for Answers is the Ultimate in Blind Faith

According to the Internet, my friends, I’ve had cancer several times. That’s because every time I have a new annoying pain or symptom (which is, since I am older than my genetic code thinks I ought to be, ALL THE TIME) I am far too lazy to seek a trained medical professional (mainly because someday those medical professionals are gonna tell me to lay off the sauce and after bursting into manly tears I’m going to contact my local cryogenics representative and go out fat, drunk, and stupid like I lived) so instead I head to the Internet to enter in vague and inappropriate keywords and be told, invariably, I have cancer. Because everything is cancer to the Internet:

JSOMERS: My hand hurts when I do this.

CAPNCRUNCHY: We can’t see you, dude, it’s the Internet.

JSOMERS: IT HURTS WHEN I DO THIS.

CAPNCRUNCHY: Probably cancer.

(more…)

The Inner Swine Guide to Ignorance Episode 6

By | May 12, 2014 | 0 Comments
(This originally appeared in Brutarian Quarterly #52; for a while I wrote a column there about ignorance in general and my ignorance in specific. It was a lot of fun and I figure I’ll post them here now and again.)
Episode Six: Retroactive Ignorance
I Title this: Handsome Bastard

I Title this: Handsome Bastard

They say that time travel is impossible. “They” being the faceless, cruel scientists who actually rule this planet with their “knowledge” and “expertise”. If I had knowledge and expertise I’d probably be unstoppable, but this damned ignorance keeps getting in the way, dooming me to a life of beer-swillage and remote-fondling. And, of course, pondering ignorance and its power, which is apparently infinite. When they figure out dark matter and string theory, I’m sure what they’ll find at the core of the universe is, you got it, ignorance. In fact, a sufficient level of generalized ignorance even makes time travel possible, and not in the traveling-forward-in-time-at-regular-speed way.

Usually ignorance is pretty much in the moment and, like the elusive rainbow, disappears the moment you realize it was there at all. But sometimes ignorance—such is its power—can cast a long shadow backwards in time as the sudden inrush of knowledge that fills the vacuum exposed by your realization of ignorance sheds light on past events and makes you realize you’ve actually been a jackass for much longer than you had previously imagined.

The effect is startling. Trust me.

Naturally, such revelations are almost always humiliating in nature, for vengeful ignorance crushes its enemies and punishes those who attempt to dispel it. The worst part is, with retroactive ignorance the humiliation reverberates backwards in time, illuminating the last few months or years or decades of your life in the harsh yellow light of Fail.

An easy illustrative example of this is the simple mispronunciation of words.Say you spend your entire adult life pronouncing “segue” as seeg. “And then we seeg into the next scene.” You do so completely free of shame or self-consciousness because you don’t actually realize you’re pronouncing it wrong—you’re ignorant. And no one corrects you because they know how embarrassing it is to be corrected about something trivial like that. Then, one day, you’re reading a ridiculous column in a cool underground-type magazine and some points out that it should actually be pronounced segway, and you quickly experience the following string of events:

  1. An urge to snort and point out how ridiculous this is to someone standing near you
  2. The sour, rotten tendrils of doubt poke through your bravura
  3. You look up the word and realize you have been saying it wrong for approximately your whole life
  4. You are embarrassed
  5. You start recalling how often you like to use the word in your daily conversations because you think it makes you sound erudite
  6. Flashes of all the moments in time you’ve used the word go through your mind as your humiliation speeds backwards in time until it reaches you as a zygote and implants itself inside your soul
  7. You realize your whole life has been a terrible sham and failure and begin to contemplate suicide
  8. Someone says let’s go have a drink and you cheer up, but resolve to never use the word again
  9. After three or nine drinks you suddenly realize you just used the word “segue” sixteen times in conversation and mispronounced it, as usual, all sixteen times
  10. And no one corrected you in any way
  11. So you decide they are all your enemies, secretly laughing at you behind your back, and excuse yourself to go throw up in the bathroom, attempt to climb out the window in order to make a dramatic and secretive exit, get wedged in the small bathroom window, pass out, and wake up the next morning in a hotel room in Mexico, sitting in a tub full of ice with a cell phone duct-taped to your hand

This happens. Trust me. Such is the power of ignorance.

In fact, I doubt it could ever be proven that the sudden realization of long-standing ignorance doesn’t actually alter past events as opposed to merely altering your perception/recollection of them. Say you suddenly remember a moment when you used “segue” incorrectly and now you remember that everyone burst into laughter and at the time you assumed it was because of something hilarious you just said even though what you said wasn’t all that hilarious, but now you see they were laughing at your sad lack of proper pronunciation. Or were they? Maybe they were laughing at something you said—until you realized your ignorance, and changed the past.

String theory is a hell of a thing. You can’t prove I’m wrong.

Of course, having established that Ignorance can travel backwards along your timeline and alter events in the past, isn’t it conceivable that it can also change the future? After all, once you learn how to properly pronounce “segue” you’re unlikely to mispronounce it in the future (unless you are brain damaged in some way). As a matter of fact, you’ll probably go out of your way to ensure you don’t mispronounce it ever again, as from that point forward you will be sadly aware of the humiliation involved. You will take steps. You will write the word phonetically on your hand in permanent marker. You will practice in front of the mirror, privately. You will invent little mnemonic games to help you remember.

In other words, you will consciously change your behavior, thus altering the future.

You’re starting to see why we should immediately build a huge golden statue of the God Ignorance and start slaughtering cattle at its base, yes? Ignorance could crush you, boyo. It holds the Deep Magic in its taloned hands.

Presenting @ The 2014 Writer’s Digest Conference

By | May 7, 2014 | 2 Comments

WDC_2014So, this has happened:

I’ve been invited to be a presenter at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference (www.writersdigestconference.com). I was told that, remarkably, if I didn’t live in the NYC area they would have paid for my travel and hotel but since I do they will pay for nothing. Which kind of encapsulates my publishing career to date, actually.

I will be making the following presentation:

Title: Take Off Your Pants and Write! The Benefits and Pitfalls of Pantsing vs. Plotting a Novel

Date: Saturday, August 2, 2014, 2:40PM — 3:30PM

More Info: http://www.writersdigestconference.com/ehome/83905/schedule/?&&

Naturally, you have questions. I have answers:

1. Why in god’s name does anyone think you should be impressing impressionable young writers?

Because I’ve published eight novels with number nine on the way and over thirty short stories. Also: I’m a damn fine good looking man and the world benefits when I appear in public.

2. What kind of wisdom will you be imparting?

As the title hints, it will all be pants-related. Also, a little bit about plotting your novels. But mainly pants stuff.

3. Will you bring a bottle of Scotch and pour everyone in the room a drink as you famously did at your Bouchercon presentation in 2010?

No, I learned my lesson from that debacle. A drunk audience is not better than a sober one. They are worse. So much worse.

SO! There you have it. I will be imparting my noveling wisdom to those in need. Or at least those who have not yet found better, smarter, younger mentors.

The Politics of Drinking

By | April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
15398_2845Or: How to Go Drinking

Even in my dotage, friends, into which I am very, very deeply snuggled, wrapped in the warm comfort of forget fulness, epic naps, and a cheerful certainty that I have assets and income, as opposed to the icy certainty that I had debt and no clean underwear that was my constant companion in youth, even in my dotage I sometimes find myself out drinking like the old days.

I am not one who usually feels the need to sing songs about my youth. I like being this age and see nothing changing about that up until I have my first heart attack some time next week. Until then, I like this mix of experience and general physical stability and wouldn’t want to be 25 again for anything. Except, sometimes, I do miss going out drinking just about every day. No, seriously. Wasn’t that great? Monday, Wednesday, Sunday – whatever, someone was always calling around or sending an email out asking if anyone wanted to have drinks. It was a grand, wonderful time to be alive. And yes, also a dramatic and often sickly time, but do not ruin this, or I will end you.

Anyways, I do sometimes still get out to consume bottles of distilled beverages and then sing Irish folk songs like The Leaving of Liverpool remembered from when my dear old Dad used to get drunk and sing Irish folk songs, and when I do this with a crowd larger than, say, three, the same clusterfuck always happens, because crowds larger than three are programmed to act like they have never been in a bar before in their entire lives.

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Categories: Bullshit

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