Friday, October 15, 2010

Swill Reading Oakland Tuesday

If you're in Oakland (California: non-California Oaklanders need not apply) next Tuesday, October 19, there is a reading celebrating issue 5 of Swill and issue 9 of Monday Night. The reading will be at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph, Oakland, near 19th Street BART, at 7 p.m.

I will be there. I will read. The other Swill readers will be Allison Landa and Warren Lutz. The Monday Night readers will be Marissa Bell Toffoli (nothing against marriage, but I think her name was shorter the last time I had to type it. Although that explanation is a helluva longer than her additional name.), Amber DiPietra, and Della Watson.

I hate to be the one to break the news, but this so-called "cafe" actually has a full liquor license, and while attending the reading, listeners and ignorers alike may imbibe as much alcohol as their server allows. To add further to this sadness, I think it was unanimous among the editors of both magazines that the reading should take place somewhere that serves alcohol. Because, you know, otherwise I'll drink at home.

Another note: I will represent both magazines at the reading. I started Swill because I wanted specific things from a magazine, but I was one of the editors of Monday Night for nine years. I left Monday Night during the editing of the latest issue because I don't have time to read the number of submissions we receive at the two magazines combined. I didn't leave until after we'd decided what to accept for the current issue. I've been a part of Monday Night for nine years and I'm proud of what we've accomplished. I'm also damned glad to be friends with Jessie, who has been one of the editors from the start, and Nana, who joined more recently but feels like she could have been there all along.

So, if you are able to join us, we have a half dozen readers and a full bar. What more could you want? I mean, considering that you could conceivably meet your what more at a full bar.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Different Media, Different Methods

This started as an email to Sean Craven ( Thus there are some second person phrasings in here. If you are not Sean and they apply to you, fine. If not, well, I liked the email enough that I didn't feel like editing the damned thing. I have enough editing to do without messing with this.

Was listening to a Gary W. Tallent bass line on a Springsteen live version of Chuck Berry's Back in the USA, and I loved the bass line, but realized, it would have been different if it hadn't followed that particular piano solo. Which to a certain degree is the nature of the bass: it sets things up or it follows them. It's an 'in conjunction with the rest of the band' instrument.

I also realized that there's this weird guitar break in the Springsteen version that probably has nothing to do with the Chuck Berry original but was included in the MC5 version. Which was produced by Jon Landau, who later became Springsteen's manager, probably by the time of the bootleg I was listening to.

Music is such an interdependent activity, while writing and the visual arts lean toward independence. To varying degrees, depending on what input the artist allows. Which, multivariegated artist that you are, has to tap into different parts of your brain, which has to be good for you. While I have chosen a job that requires a large amount of work-related socializing, and after work, except when I specifically seek out friends, I NEED my isolated activities. Different ways of achieving some form of balance.

Not to claim that either of us has achieved our ideal state, but there are other people in the world who either get no isolation or get far too much. Which presumably makes for an imbalance, results of which are fucking fine fodder for story-telling. I think instantly of The Wild Child, a great movie based on an interesting book. A similar story, that of Kasper Hauser, was turned into an interesting play by Peter Handke and another interesting movie (by Werner Herzog, who was a friend of Handke), such fine material that it was a good story in at least four different tellings, although in my opinion only the Truffaut movie was great. (The play was pretty damned close, though.)

I wonder how the medium relates to the tale. The Wild Child, as it's about an isolated character, seems like it would be delivered most accurately as a book, an isolated creation. But the story is not about a boy alone. It is about a boy alone inserted into society, it's about that society's reaction to him and its attempts to either sell him as a freak or to defreak him into being one of us. At least, that's the story Truffaut's movie tells. The other angles I've witnessed may have been as accurate in terms of what they intended, but I did not get the emotional impact. Handke's play is difficult to compare as it is an experimental piece with few words spoken, and I've read it but not seen it.

I think the primary point to be made from this is that the storytelling that worked best had a point to make and made it. You have to know what you're trying to do, and you have to say it. The bass line that follows the piano solo may not have been there the first rehearsal, or the seventh. But the damned song was not complete until THAT was THERE.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Table Assembly Instructions For Aliens

This picture is the complete assembly instructions for an Ikea table. Granted, they leave out that you have to hold the screws with a wrench or something while attaching the table legs, but that's not hard to figure. What's interesting is the apparently gelatinous being at the bottom, and what it is attempting to do. Whatever it is doing, it seems to hurt if you don't put a rug underneath. Also, greater pleasure is derived if one arm is extended, even if that arm does not have a hand. Bracing your arm against the obscure furniture-like item seems to prevent its cracking when you do whatever it is you do to it. I don't know what the being is pressing itself against (or into); it does not remotely resemble the flat table with four legs that these instructions accompany. I would, however, have liked to derive the pleasure from table assembly that this being apparently derived from whatever it did.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The United States of Oakland

Possibly backdrop for my novel, which is pretty much completed but, uh, needs some backdrop. Anyway, so far this is fiction:

The states were no longer united. Regional interests had become irreconcilable mindsets. Indignation on all sides – secession, once begun, went viral. The federal government tried to hold its military bases, but there were too many in California, some manned by Californians. California broke off on its own, absorbed a few surrounding states, and became The Western Territories. Texas, The Southeast, and The Northeast had large enough armories to form strong groups of their own, especially the Northeast, which held Washington, D.C. The Midwest, however, had primarily agriculture, and insufficient artillery to defend it. It became a battleground, strategically important for the land itself and the people who knew how to work it.

California was its own bloodbath, soldiers and police and gangs, allegiances bought and sold with no national flag to salute. Laws disappeared, it was all a question of power. Murderous alliances formed, composed of allies who did not trust each other. San Francisco tried to co-opt Oakland with money. Oakland responded with explosives and automatic rifles. Oakland controlled Northern California, and they spread across what used to be state lines. They had Las Vegas with them when they hit Los Angeles. They burned it to the ground.

Oakland became capital of The Western Territories. It was run by a coalition of military men, bikers, mobsters, and other politicians. They had many connections and few morals. It took a lot of years, a lot of hits, but the people who ran Oakland weren’t satisfied with controlling The Western Territories. They ordered butchery until they controlled The Midwest, then they hit hard in The Southeast until that was theirs as well. They didn’t have Texas or Detroit yet, but they didn’t really want them. Let those crazy motherfuckers keep killing themselves, that was the word. Pincer The Northeast.

It was bloody, but Oakland was used to that. A lot of people get killed. The difference was, this time Oakland got something out of it. Got to be capital of the newly United States of America.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


We don't have a table of contents yet, we haven't finished line edits, and we haven't yet responded to all submissions because many of the stories we've accepted are short and may not quite fill an issue. So, in case we come up a few pages short we may accept someone else. However, I have closed the reading period with the expectation that my page estimates are pretty accurate.

Swill 4 may have been our ultimate noir issue. We still love noir, and there is some slated for Swill 5, but our love of plot does not mean that every story must have a monster or a killing. In fact, we've branched out so much in this issue that there are more female writers than male. Which has not been the case in the past. In fact, it was pointed out to me that there were no female writers in either of our last two issues. Which struck me as odd, because cruelty and a sick head are hardly exclusive to males.

So, as we have no idea yet what order the stories will appear in, I'll just list the authors in alphabetical order. Thanks to all, it's been and continues to be a pleasure.

Swill 5 will include new writing by:

Sean Beaudoin
Z.Z. Boone
Sean Craven
Elizabeth Eslami
Chia Evers
Allison Landa
Delphine LeCompte
Warren Lutz
Jasmine Paul
Rob Pierce
Catherine Schaff-Stump
Wendy Sumner-Winter

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And here's what I think of public displays of affection

Stop advertising your love
Nobody cares about happiness
Unless it affects their own
So give me some of that
Or get it out of my sight
Cheers, lovebirds,
May you toast yourselves with strychnine.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm Not Here

Well, not enough anyway. I stop in periodically and see numerous posts I'm interested in, then try to read the ones I'm most interested in based on the subject. Because...

I'm rewriting the ending of the novel I've been working on, and I'm editing for two magazines (Swill and Monday Night), the former of which is reading submissions right now ( for guidelines, etc.), the latter having moved on to the editors talking about which submissions we're going to accept.

So far, none of those things are financially profitable. As I have a wife and two kids, there is a whole lot of other time going to a job that generates income and to spending time with family.

Oh, and I'm beginning to suspect my next car repair may involve a shotgun.

I know this doesn't matter to that many people, but to the people who read this blog: hey, that's why I may not have commented on a post that would have interested me had I read it. If you've posted something and want my opinion, let me know. If you're someone who doesn't have my email address, send something to and I guarantee I'll look at it. However spammy you may appear.

This thing where life is finite just fucks with my schedule. Off to work on novel, ignoring several recent blog posts that interest me. Cheers all.