Exhibit 1.7.19

Easily Amused By My Own Antics


So I’m traveling this week, but I thought I’d post some old tweets/links to old posts/other lazy things in order to fill the void. Also, I’m not reading anything particularly literary on the flights but the first of a series of books you might be familiar with from a certain TV show.

That’s right, it’s Two and a Half Men: the Novelization. A taste:

“O, I’ve got it maid,” Charlie said, taking a moment to pause in the cold laughter of the previous generation, laughter he always heard when he said his sorry jokes, the ones that hid his true despair, the despair the canned dead found so hilarious.

Anyway, I recently deleted two year’s worth of tweets because I don’t know why, but I figure I can repost some 10 at a time and stretch this out for a good lifetime’s worth of blogging.

So 10 tweets, some of which are funny only in how context specific they were:

*  I’m not so much a teacher as I am a guy running a scam to get all the paperclips.

*  I assume Twitter verified the Dalai Lama by showing up at his house and asking, “Which of these Tweets already belongs to you?”

*  Business plan: Ash Tuesday. The end.

*   Sometimes I think my novel “Erstwhale”–about a boy who used to be a whale–isn’t the best idea ever. Then I remember: No, it is.

*   When asked to describe the suspect, Billy Idol shrugged and said, “Eyes with a face.”

*  Take comfort in the fact that no Borders is probably what John Lennon would have wanted.

*  Can’t decide if I’d marry a girl named Dawn Draper. On the one hand, absolutely. On the other, never.

*  I don’t see any way @NewYorker can reject my submission “The Preëminent Reëlection Coördinator Coöperates.”

*  Let’s cut all military spending and just have something called The Smarmy that wears gold chains and hits on the other countries’ spouses.

*  Television person: “Look, it’s Morse code!” Real person: “That flashing light sucks.”


Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Travel, Twitter

Exhibit 1.2.4


I took exactly two pictures during the 5 days I was in D.C., one in my first hour there, one in my last.

Picture one:

This was on the Metro map when I arrived, proving once again that people from Texas are jerks everywhere. Not pictured: me writing it. I don’t know how this state got to me, but it probably involved breakfast tacos.

Picture two:

This was my suitcase on the way home which was 70% Cupboards, 20% Anna Karenina, and 10% clothes, proving once again that I’m awesome at packing everywhere. Not pictured: me wearing 5 shirts and all my socks.

1 Comment / Posted in Packing, The Cupboard, Travel

Exhibit 23.13

Things To Do on a 12-Hour Drive

1) Wake up two hours after starting, look around to make sure this is the right road, it is, shrug

2) Think about the books you might be listening to, decide listening to books is wrong, do this all out loud, at gas station

3) Eat Lemonheads, promise self to eat more Lemonheads in the future, wonder if Evan Dando is now dating Rhett Miller

4) Oklahoma

5) Discover that paying tolls with $50 bills requires extensive security screening, make ill-advised yet topical joke about airport security not being so tough

6) Drink root beer for the first time in several years, wonder why, decide Adam Duritz is probably dating Evan Dando and that your new thing is going to be saying Barq’s as a swear word

7) Ponder whether or not Gene Autry, OK was named before the actor, think about stopping to ask, realize the exit was 37 miles ago

8) Pull it together

9) Settle on the weirdest person in your phonebook to call, resist the temptation to call them, Dad

10) Give up on Dallas, no matter where you are driving to/from, just do it, it’s time

Comment / Posted in Oklahoma, Swears, Travel

Exhibit 20.4

Conversation of Elderly Rowmates Overheard on Plane Concerning Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper

Man: What’s that book about?
Woman: Oh, there’s this husband and wife who have a daughter with cancer and they decide to have another daughter just so she can donate things to the first one.
Man: Does that work?
Woman: Well they choose a sperm and an egg that will make things match.
Man (looking suspicious): Hmm.
Woman: Then the second daughter hires a lawyer.
Man (opening up paper, looking bored): She hires a lawyer, huh?
Woman: Yes, a lawyer. She doesn’t want to donate a kidney so she sues her own parents. In the end you find out…
Man (suddenly animated): Don’t ruin it for me, Betty!

(Minutes later)
Betty: Oh, and they have a son, too. I didn’t mention that.

1 Comment / Posted in Books, Planes, Travel

Exhibit 19.10

On Editing a Novel #15

DRAFTING A COHERENT SET OF RULES TO GOVERN THE TIME TRAVEL ASPECTS OF YOUR NOVEL. Everyone loves time travel. It’s fun and easy and never confusing. It allows us a glimpse inside of ourselves to see what we’d look like in period-appropriate pants. By traveling back in time, we are freed from history and presented with a myriad of possiblities for a new present. Step on one bug, and the consequences are limited only by our imaginations. Anything could happen, like a present where Germany won World War II or, say, one where Hitler is Pope or even a crazy one where the Nazis have taken over the Eastern seaboard and everyone in Baltimore speaks German.

(German Omar says, “fü’ sicher.”)

So literally anything, anything with Germans. Which is why it’s important to make sure that when drafting your novel you present your readers with a consistent set of rules to say what is and is not possible when your hero(ine) goes back in time.

(Note that your protagonist cannot and should not go forward in time. That’s just stupid. If you want to write about such silly things skip ahead to #21 IT’S BEEN DONE BEFORE BUT HAS IT BEEN DONE…ON MARS? or #61 MOVING YOUR NOVEL INTO THE FUTURE BY THE ADJECTIVAL ADDITION OF THE WORD SPACE, OR, ALTERNATIVELY, HOW DO WE SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE SPACE HITLER? )

We’re not physicists, but, after much prayer, we’ve learned that this is how time travel works:

* Despite there being are an infinite number of realities, each branching off from a decision, anything done in the past can only change the present in one very obvious way. For example, if you go back in time to avenge your father’s murder, in the present everyone will have mustaches.

* A person disappears while time traveling and is gone from the present for as long as they’re in the past. This leads to two things: 1) Their spouse being like all what the hell and 2) Company softball team members considering their participation unreliable.

* There will always be one character who can explain everything . You’ll know which character this is because they’ll have a chalkboard, unkempt hair, and look like Jeremy Davies.

* When a person sees their past relatives, they’ll always look exactly like the person only with cowboy hats or whatever.

* A person can make money by time traveling. But not by telling people they’ve invented a time machine or taking advantage of the magic of compound interest. Nope, the only way to make money is sports gambling. For example, have a character in the present casually mention that they heard the Cardinals were 9/2 to win the division in 1982. Have your time travelling character say, really, that’s interesting while rubbing their chin. Then the character takes $200 out of the ATM, travels back, etc.

* Some things are inevitable and you cannot change them.

* But some things aren’t and you can change them.

* The most memorable song from the era will always be playing loudly whenever the character first gets out of the time machine. For example, in 1956, it will be “Hound Dog.” Always. And nearby children will be dancing funny and wearing their shorts too high. This may be disconcerting until you explain that the time machine navigates based on short height.

Those are the rules. Everything not specifically covered here is fair game. So if your novel is not going well, you can have a character travel back in time halfway through and invalidate everything that has come before. Do not be tempted to then delete that first half of the novel. It’s important to your character’s spiritual journey and to your page count.

Comment / Posted in Editing, Time, Travel

Exhibit 18.1

Houston Notes

* The Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel next door are fantastic. The Menil is mostly modern & surrealist art with some antiquities and smatterings of medieval art thrown in for fun. And it is fun. Just a good, lively museum. The Rothko Chapel and its Broken Obelisk go without saying. You can pick up the primary text of just about any religion and read it in a very self-conscious art/meditation space. Somehow it works. I was this close to becoming a Hare Krishna. Instead I decided that I’ll try to follow professional soccer.

* Conversation with Rental Car Guy

Rental Car Guy: Wow. This car has cruise control. Lucky you.
Me: Um, great.
Rental Car Guy: Where are you headed?
Me: Downtown.
Rental Car Guy: Oh, nevermind. You won’t need it. Sorry. Didn’t mean to get you excited.
Me: It’s okay. [sighs/collects confetti from asphalt]

* He was right. I did not use the cruise control. I don’t know if there’s a way to set the cruise control for intermittent periods of 80 miles per hour followed by 15 minutes of not moving at all. Driving in Houston was actually sort of fun. It allowed me to break out my Michael-Rooker-in-DaysofThunder face as I swerved around SUVs in my Nissan Versa. Good times.

* Okay, I didn’t decide to follow professional soccer. My apologies to everyone at Borussia Dortmund FC. Didn’t mean to get you excited.

* The first song that came on my iPod as I waited for my plane out was Tom Waits’s “Fannin Street.” I had a moment where I got to wonder if it was about the street I was driving on yesterday before the first line, There’s a crooked street in Houston town. That pretty much settled it.

* That is weird though, right? Maybe I should believe in Tom Waits. Previously, I’ve been a bit of an agnostic about his existence. Fossil records do suggest that Rod Stewart wrote “Downtown Train.”

* So I liked Houston as a city except for this one thing: the light rail. It almost hit me twice, once when driving, once when wandering around downtown. I’m willing to concede both times were my fault–in that I was walking/driving in a place near the light rail–but there seems to be an awful lot of chaos created by this one train that runs in a seven mile straight line. I can’t even imagine the set of circumstances that would lead me to actually get on it.

* I read the new piece up at Bear Parade in my hotel room on Friday. You should read it too. You’ll like it. Unless you’re Lydia Davis. Then you’ll probably have very complicated feelings about it.

* Many thanks to Ryan and Laura and Gene and anyone else who humored me as I told them things they already knew about the light rail. Had a great time.

1 Comment / Posted in Houston, Toms, Travel

Exhibit 17.2

Las Vegas Photos

So I took my camera out for approximately 4 hours yesterday at which point I took photos of things that were neither people nor Vegas-specific. So my camera is basically a job I’ve gotten myself, a job I put off until I have so little time that I can neither filter what my id wants to shoot nor turn off my camera’s macro function.

I hate buffets, but I think I might have actually gotten my money’s worth in coffee and orange juice alone. For the rest of the day, my hands shook (but not because of scurvy!)

I found the place where you should go for Denver Broncos games and dead fish. You’re welcome.

Chocolate croissant? Everybody’s a winner. For the rest of the day, my hands shook (but not because of hunger [and still not scurvy!])

This was just a sticker on the street that I thought was fascinating because I had no idea if it was A) Pro-Terrorist, Anti-Jesus or B) Anti-Terrorist, Pro-Jesus or C) Anti-Terrorist, Anti-Jesus or D) Pro-Jesus, Pro-Terrorist. I still have no idea and googling the phrases here hasn’t gotten me any closer to finding out. I was so confused that I think I even had the following conversation with Jo-Jo, my 3-card poker dealer.

Me: I just don’t get that sticker, Jo-Jo.
Jo-Jo: You play?
Me: I mean, okay, so the ‘shmissionary’ leads me to believe it’s probably anti-Jesus, but where do the terrorists come into play, Jo-Jo?
Jo-Jo: You need put chip down now.
Me: Maybe I should go back and take another look at the sidewalk. Of course, I’d have to ask the guys handing out the dancer cards to move again. I don’t know, there probably aren’t any more clues.
Jo-Jo: I decide play. You lose.
Me: Hmm, didn’t I used to have money?
Jo-Jo: Maybe ‘The Terrorist’ is clever rapper name.
Me: Hey, Jo-Jo, can I borrow ten dollars for a chocolate croissant and some coffee?
Jo-Jo: Shmissionary could be his label, I suppose. I should google this during my next twenty minute break.
Me: Seriously, Jo-Jo, who cares about the sticker? I don’t know how I’m going to pay for the taxi to the airport. I’m hungry and cold and maybe have scurvy.
New Dealer: I’ll be here for twenty minutes, guys. So, anyone see anything interesting on the sidewalk today? Hold on, sir. Before you start talking, you need to know that question was for players with chips on the table.

Oh, and then there was the time when Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier threatened my dog. Let’s see how she’s doing right now:

Seems fine. You lose again, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.

Comment / Posted in Brett, Jo-Jos, Travel

Exhibit 17.1

I’m leaving on another trip this afternoon, this time to Las Vegas to do these things:

1) See my friend Brant who lives in Los Angeles. That, I suppose, is the impetus for the trip, but what’s odd about that is I see Brant fairly regularly and–AND–every time I do see him, Brant and I end up going to a casino anyway. So basically we’re just taking the experience on the road. It’ll be like spring training for Thanksgiving.

2) Have fun with my friend Dave. Dave’s graduating from medical school soon. Dave’s getting married. Dave once fell asleep and locked me out of a hostel in Switzerland yet I’m still going to trust him to fix my cancer, cancer Dave will probably give me if I bum cigarettes off of him.

3) Entertain my friend Justin. He seems very excited for this trip which, possibly, is the only reason I’m still going. We got to have a conversation on the phone today where I explained how to check into a flight and why he should consider only taking a carry-on bag. I felt like that guy who writes those books on traveling. You know, the one. With the cargo shorts. And his glasses on one of those neon floating things. Yeah, that one.

4) Sleep. But this one’s really just for me. The rest of the guys are free to make their own decisions. I’m going to be like that guy who doesn’t exist who has a really good time and facilitates everyone else’s good time while never leaving the hotel room. Wait…

Actually, you know what, scratch that. It sounds sort of dirty. And by sort of, I mean John Irving.

5) Edit. This one’s also just for me. Here, look what I made today when I should have been doing other things:

That’s about 8 hours worth of other things I missed out on today. Weird as I wasn’t even home for 8 hours today. Huh. Well, best not to spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Yeah, so I’m making a sire line chart and then writing entries for it. It actually only took me about an hour or two this evening. My friends Dave and Neal have one in their bathroom. It’s the coolest thing in the world. Theirs is for thoroughbreds. Mine is for Americans. It’s going to be a chapbook as I’m not going to do anything else with the pieces and AWP got me all excited about having a chapbook again.

If nothing else, it got me through this week+ stretch of being home and not wanting to work on a bigger project just to get interrupted again.

While I’m gone, my sister will be staying at my place and watching the dog. So if you stop by to see me (or, more likely, the dog) and there is someone who looks like me but slightly tougher, that’s my sister. Maybe take her on a date, why not?

I’m back Monday. Things I’m going to do Monday:

1) Stop writing blog posts with the word ‘I’
2) Stop trying to fix up my sister

Great, so we’re agreed. You’re going to marry my sister.

This way I’ll see you at Thanksgiving. I’ll be the one in game shape.

I’m just kidding. No one marry my sister while I’m gone. That’s my one rule.

2 Comments / Posted in Brants, Davids, Travel

Exhibit 7.19

Things I Consumed While Driving Review

Wendy’s – [The] Baconator
I never eat at Wendy’s so I panicked when ordering and ended up with something called either “Baconator” or “The Baconator.” I’m more than willing to eat, watch, hug, or run from anything that risks the “-nator” suffix, however, so it all worked out. The actual sandwich seems to be a hamburger with Swiss cheese, bacon, and a sauce that tastes like those hot Cheetos you might have had once but didn’t really enjoy. I spent most of the twenty minutes after ordering it trying to take it apart while driving to determine all of the key components. Had it tasted a little more like Andy Capp’s Hot Fries and less like Cheetos, I might have had more than two bites.

Bosselman’s Truck Plaza – French Vanilla Cappuccino
If you’ve never had a “cappuccino” at a gas station, you’re basically missing out on one of those machines that spews scalding foam at irregular intervals and then asks you to properly determine when to stop the machine since it apparently takes a few seconds to calculate the algorithm which shuts it all down. This has always confused me, but over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing exactly when to take my finger off the button. I really nailed it on this drive, too, and gave the cashier who’d been watching me a nod that basically said That’s right, unlike most suckers you see here in Wood River, Nebraska, I don’t even need to push the button again to top it off. He didn’t seem too impressed with my achievement. Of course, he only had one ear so he’s probably seen a great many incredible things in his life. Still, I really wish we could have shared that moment.

As far as the actual drink: Delicious. It tastes nothing like coffee or milk or French or Vanilla, but it does tastes like what might happen if you melted down the marshmallows from Count Chocula and distributed the liquid by a high-stakes game of skill.

Elk’s Club (Cozad, Nebraska) – Cheeseburger
This was the only place open in a 15 mile radius when I stopped to have dinner with my grandmother and even they only had hamburgers. It was delicious and the service was quick because, according to the waitress, we missed the 5:00pm dinner rush.

Creepy Gas Station (Julesburg, Colorado) – Water
Modern gas station technology has yet to hit Julesburg which is fine except for when it leads to multiple awkward encounters with the same friendly (but insane) attendant. We had a good talk in several parts as I prepaid, got a bathroom key, and bought my water. It’s a shame their coffee technology stopped at a few loose frappuccinos rolling around on the cooler floor, because this guy would have had a lot to say about my cappuccino-machine skills.

6 Comments / Posted in Attendants, Cozad, Travel

Exhibit 5.14

I don’t even know how long I’ve been in California anymore. After Disneyland yesterday, the only things I know are the lyrics to “it’s a small world” and the rapidly inflating price of a churro.

Ride Grades

Indiana Jones: A
Space Mountain: C+
Matterhorn: Broken Rib
Thunder Mountain: B
Pirates of the Caribbean: 3 Johnny Depps
Tower of Terror: A+
My Body Mass Index according to lamest ride ever: 29
29 BMI = Dangerously overweight
Dangerously Overweight: No
Cotton Candy: Delicious
Splash Mountain: B
Number of Inside Jokes: One One
it’s a small world: it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all,

1 Comment / Posted in Churro, Small Worlds, Travel

Exhibit 5.13

California Day Three-Four

In ‘N Out Burger double double driving

Driving Takashi Murakami MOCA

Inochi, you are alive!

Dali at the LACMA

Ants ants ants film with ants

Dali’s three American Surrealists: Harpo Marx, Walt Disney, and Cecil B. DeMille


Brunch driving card games

Fewer nickels

2 Comments / Posted in Art, Inochis, Travel

Exhibit 5.12

California Day Two

Sunshine dog walk harness sure to pick up


Sports bar Dolphins sad halftime goodbye

Rock Rose Gallery classical guitar clarinet tangos amazing super fun good time

Chimay Cuban pork industrial bar

Comment / Posted in Pancakes, Tango, Travel

Exhibit 5.11

California Day One

AM ice nearly in ditch late dog in bag

Tiny plane baby bagel package to head crying kicking singalong

Ontario lost coffee nap nap spectrum

Poke bowl asahi good choice

Golf beer stein thrill of victory

2 dollars and uncountable nickels richer

Comment / Posted in Nickels, Travel, Victories

Exhibit 3.23

Des Moines

Things you have to experience when you are in Des Moines:

  • The above-above-ground walkway system. (Anyone who tells you the only one is the one that connects the third floor of downtown buildings is lying. You should yell at people who tell you this and demand to be taken to the executive walkway system. It’s higher).
  • Bill Richardson.
  • The corn maze which occupies three square-miles near the city hall. Don’t go around drive time. I have long advocated re-spelling the name “The Corn Maize.” Because, well, you probably get it.
  • The video store where they organize the movies by actor’s name. I forget the name of it. I could spend all day in the Tek from Real World: Hawaii section.
  • Urbandale.
  • Heaven. Most people don’t know this is in Iowa. If you ask Kevin Costner and he tells you differently, you should punch him right in his smug jaw.
  • When you go to the track horses, dogs, and stock cars can all be seen at various times and sometimes all at once.
  • Silas Hanrahan’s house is a tour you have to see, but you should call to make sure he’s home.
  • The Museum of Handshakes is the perfect way to end a night (or a formal business meeting).
1 Comment / Posted in Des Moines, Silases, Travel