Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Condoleeza Rice is Scared of Me


Did I getcha?  If you are a politician or major corporation, then my guess is "Yeah, I gotcha."  Happy Halloween.

You wouldn't be my first victim.  As an aspiring published novelist, I have a  record of intimidating politicians and major corporations.  In fact, it's part of the order of things.  Here's a quick study I made up regarding who has the most power in this beloved country of ours (By "ours" I mean "white men's."  If you are not a white man and you are reading this, make sure you take special note of where you belong in the order of things.  And stay there!)


10) Aspiring novelists who are not white men
9) Anyone else I don't mention here (also, Latina mothers)
8) Toyota (also, stock brokers)
7) God (also, Satan)
6) "Big Ag"
5) Politicians (current and former)
4) George Clooney
3) The Tea Party, bigots, misogynists and racists (as of next January)
2) Exxon Mobil
1) Aspiring novelists who are white men

I will now support the above "theory" (which is actually fact).

Five years ago, I wrote a performance piece for MOSAIC called Kyoto Toyota.  It criticized Toyota for destroying almost their entire fleet of electric cars back in 2005.  (Sidenote: Yes, Prius owners, you read that correctly.  You are suckers.  Not only did Toyota get you a good one by making your gas pedals stick to the floor, they also developed a completely electric car a good 3 years before the "revolutionary" Prius.  And people liked it, and you probably would have, too.   You know what?  I don't have space in this blog post to tell you how much of a sucker you are.  The politicians and major corporations are scared and waiting for me to get on with it.  Just go here if you own a Prius.  Then, cry.)

So back to the point.  Politicians and major corporations -- sorry to keep you scared.

My MOSAIC piece, Kyoto Toyota, was the cat's pajamas.  We danced around.  We imitated local car commercials.  We smashed matchbox cars with whiffleball bats.  A fun time was had by all (except the lady who got hit by the tiny flying wheel).  What we didn't know at the time was that Kyoto Toyota was an intimidating pair of cat's pajamas (Happy Halloween again).  It was about two months after the piece was first performed that Toyota started changing their ways (sort of).  Again, it's too big to get into, so go here (Basically, Kyoto Toyota, MOSAIC and I are the reason why Toyota didn't crush all of their electric cars.  You're welcome.)

In case you aren't lost yet, fast forward another month.  October, 2005.  In response to another piece of mine from that summer (entitled "Wesley Willis 'Does' Tom DeLay" -- linked for your enjoyment here), Tom DeLay, "The Hammer" himself, is arrested.

Holy cow!  2 for 2.  It was at that point that I stopped writing meaningful pieces for MOSAIC and for the next five years resorted to pieces about sticking your tongue out at the audience and M Night Shyamalan.  Then, last May, I left MOSAIC before I could do any more damage.

So now it's October, 2010.  I'm almost famous, working the occasional odd job to keep myself humble, and wondering why Back to the Future is back in theaters (hint: it's because all the good movies have already been made).  As far as I'm concerned, for the time being, I'm harmless.  Right?  I mean, until this blog entry, I haven't scared a politician or major corporation for five whole years.  Honest.

I decide to test the waters.  I pick up an odd job ushering for a Condoleeza Rice speaking engagement here in Boston (yes, really).  I promise myself that I won't bring my matchbox cars or whiffleball bats along.  I'll even keep my hands down and my voice calm, and I won't tell anyone from MOSAIC about the job.      

Enter Condoleeza Rice.

Oops.  On the other hand, don't enter Condoleeza Rice.  My reputation precedes me.


I did it again.  Now if only someone would arrest her.  She and Tom DeLay could compare mug shots.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Come and Find Me

I just want to publicly acknowledge that tomorrow or, technically, later today, I will be entering the Davis Mega Maze.  I've conquered this maze three years running (with a little help), but this year, it is highly possible that my corn-cutting team will be down a few key members.  For example, last year's star mapper, Jimbo (name changed to protect identity) may not be present.  What is a man to do?

I've had to think quickly.  And I came up with an idea.

I rented a helicopter and am spending the night surveying the maze from above.  It was worth the $7,250.

Still, despite my extraordinary pre-game efforts, I may, once the proverbial husk hits the weevil, get lost. 

So . . .

If I never make it to the top of the world and this blog comes to an unsatisfactory conclusion, it's because I'm trapped in a bunch of corn.  In which case:


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Omen? Check!

Some people are beginning to think that this blog is facetious.  My mother, for one.  She taught me the word "facetious."  I have one word to teach her: "hater!"

My mother, you see, has played a lot of games.  Trivial Pursuit, Life . . . a lot of Pac-Man.  A LOT of Pac-Man.  One game she has never played (guaranteed)?  Betrayal at House on the Hill.  If she had, she would understand the profusion of vestiges portending my fast-approaching illustriousness (See, ma, I can learn words on my own now, thank you very much.)

Back to Betrayal at House on the Hill.  This is a game in which, in short, 6 explorers explore (go figure) a haunted house and as they do so, different omens appear.  Once a certain amount of omens have appeared -- thirteen at the most -- one of the explorers is chosen to leave the others behind and, well, who cares what happens next.  It's irrelevant to my blog.  ((If you have never played and are intrigued, though, you have an opportunity this Thursday.  Let me know.  But be warned that I always win.)

I have, in fact, won this game so many times that now, it and I have become one.  Every time I play now, I am the explorer chosen by the omens to ascend beyond all other explorers.  Coincidence?  No.  Because, if you haven't figured it out by now, I have also been chosen in life (except by those who don't choose me.)

Is it further coincidence, then, that these omens have begun to appear in my "real" life?  (I put real in quotation marks because, honestly, what's more real than exploring a haunted house with little plastic figures?)  Here is the first one:

This check is from Zeitgeist Stage for my role in Enron.  It's the first check I've ever received for acting in a formal theatrical production at the BCA.  Not only that, but look at the script!  No man writes like that!   This check was written by a lost soul, or maybe a werewolf (possibly a witch).

Conclusion: omen #1 has arrived.  The list begins. 


1. The Zeitgeist Stage check
2. ??
3. ??
4. ??
5. ??
6. TBD
7. ??
8. ??
9. ??
10. ??
11. ??
12. ??
13. (see below)

By the time I get to omen #13, I will have arrived at my haven of exaltation.

I hope it looks like this:

 Now that's an omen (girl!)!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Cold Clooney Consequence

I'm sure you've been following the me vs George Clooney competition as closely as I have.

Your house is filled with stacks of notebooks (and George Clooney biographies), all covered in detailed notes on just what the actor is up to and how it will affect his popularity.  You're staring at The Men Who Stare At Goats.  You're considering robbing a casino to get yourself into the news.  You're staying up from dusk 'til dawn and tiring out your good wrist in the process (writing in those old-fashioned notebooks does a number on the forearms). 

Some of my new like-rs are thinking right now, "What are you talking about?"  Don't worry, new like-rs.  Unlike GC, I will care for you.  So . . . playing catch-up for those of you who haven't been with me since day 1:

As of September 29, 2010 - the day after I started my own "like"-able facebook page -- George Clooney had 636,057 facebook lik-ers.  I had 13.  At that point, I declared war.  Immediately, the numbers jumped in my favor.  Here's what it looked like 24 hours later (this is for everyone now):

GC: 636,057 like-rs (I didn't look, but I assume he stayed put.)
Me: 36 like-rs (!!!)

I nearly tripled my like-rs, and GC?  Well.  Bump on a log.  Some "career."  Probably too busy "filming."

Then came my three rejections.  And here's where things stand today.

GC: 661,090 (+25,033)
Me: 42 (+6)

Ouch.  It looks like those rejections took the momentum right out of my campaign.  It looks like it's time to give up.  I guess I've lost this competition.

If you are George Clooney, stop reading now.


HA!  (I hope I didn't write that too loud.)  Here is a secret for all of you non-GC -types.  

The fact is,  I'm playing possum.  Yes, you read that correctly (Unless you didn't.  It should read "I'm playing possum."  If that's not what you read, go back and read it again.  Now you've read that correctly.).

We all know that if I wanted to, I could continue to accumulate like-rs at an exponential rate.  But look what the arms race did to the Soviet Union.  It made them Communist. (Thanks to my publicly-educated rural NC friends for teaching me this.) 

So what am I really up to?  I'm letting George Clooney dig his own commie grave by building up arms (like-rs) until he, like the Soviet Union, turns black and white and red all over.  In the meantime, like a boutique agency, I'm keeping my clientele list small so that I can care about you all and stay "real" (until I get famous).  See how much I care?   I'm not just some numbers guy. 

Don't forget this.  

PS Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon and Conan O'Brien, please don't tell George about this secret part of my blog post.  You'll ruin everything. 

PPS It's still okay to "like" me on facebook.  I'm accepting new clients. 

PPPS And by the way, whichever one of you is outbidding me by 50 cents right now . . . please stop.  I only have $11 in my pocket given my recent rejections.  And I NEED to win something for my ego (did I mention the rejections?). 

PPPPS "You're welcome" for the tune in your head, link-clicker.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rejection Reflection (or) The Mouths of Babes

One week, three rejections.

Two were from agents who read my full manuscript. One was from an agent I was high on who declined to read it.

Again, for those who are not going to be famous soon, this happens often. It is somewhat infrequent that an agency requests to read your full manuscript at all, and you count yourself lucky every time it happens. Accordingly, I am deeply thankful that anyone at all has even given my novel the time of day, and I understand that rejection is part of the ordeal. They say that the worst thing you can do in Vegas is win on the first hand; I don't expect this to be an easy process or one that I am entitled to succeed in (The only thing I am truly entitled to is my eventual fame.) 

That said, here is a disturbing mini-trend in the nature of said rejections. First, from an agent who declined after reading the manuscript:

"I'm afraid that we just don't know that we can successfully sell this given the current climate in the publishing world. The book dances between YA themes and themes more suited for an adult reader."

And from the one who declined based on the query letter:

"You've set up a hard situation: 12 [year-old] protagonist in an adult novel. Not impossible to do, but in these 'duck and cover' times in publishing, it would be hard to pull off, both in writing and in selling."

So agents think that publishers think that [real] adults don't want to read books that open to them the minds of "young [not yet real] adults"? Noted.

Here's a game for you.

Q) For $1,000, what are the two big raves right now in fiction?

A) vampires (eck) and crossover fiction (*slushing sound*)

Q) For $1,000 more, what is crossover fiction?

A) Fiction that will appeal to both an [real] adult and a young [not yet real] adult reader. Think Harry Potter. Now, stop thinking or your brain will explode from the catch 22. (Which would make a great book title, btw. Someone get on that.)

Great. Your check's in the mail, right beside mine.

Q) Oh, for another $1,000, what do all of these news items from the last month have in common?,,20431814,00.html,CST-NWS-duncan23.article

A) Easy. They are all further evidence that publishers are correct. The happenings in the lives of young [not yet real] adults have absolutely no relevance to [real] adult life. And as such, [real] adults aren't talking, thinking or reading about them.
Bonus round!

Here is a short list of some of the themes in my novel. [Real] adults (and [real] adults only!) -- let me know which ones have no relevance to you. I will take them out forthwith. No money at stake here. Just my future.

- violence
- racism
- inequity
- intolerance
- isolation
- love
- hope
- subway travel ([real] adults still do this, right?)
- the unavoidable connection between the fate of the privileged and the fate of the poor
- peacocks

Friday, October 8, 2010

Work? A Choose-My-Own Adventure!

A friend of mine posted the following query on today.  (Some people just call it "facebook.")

"Writer friends: Do you actually LIKE the act of writing? The part where you have to get your ideas out on paper? And if not, how do you make yourself like it?"  So far, there are 27 responses, all bemoaning the difficulty of being a writer and documenting the heroic struggle of people like me and millions of others as we valiantly overcome and . . . somehow . . . write . . . anyway.

Please.  What is an artistic career compared to the difficulties of an ER doctor?  A truck driver?  A single mother?

But wait . . .
Some poorly-woven backstory:

Starting in April 2010, I made a commitment to write every day, at least 30 minutes a day, until I get published (and ergo famous).  I also committed myself to shipping out two query letters a week as part of the deal.  After all, if a tree falls in the forest and all of that . . .

(Internal P.S. A query letter, for those who won't be famous soon, is a "do you want to read my book and maybe publish / represent it?" letter.)

This commitment has been fairly easy to keep.  After all, my second bold move was to take this summer "off."  That is, after working a summer job every year since I was 16, this summer I only took 3 weeks of paying work, and that was only for 4 hours a day, 4 days a week.  It left me plenty of time to write, to market, to act, to frolic and to go broke. 

Here is a short Choose-My-Own-Adventure Game for you to play.  It documents this week's return to my "day job."  I recommend a scrap sheet of paper.  Here are your stats:

Query Speed: 1     You can finish one query letter per hour. 

Gold pieces: 3       1 gold piece = 1 "earth dollar"
Movement Rate:   to artistic job #1: 20
                                to artistic job #2: 25
                                to artistic job #3: 40
Hit Points:              40       
Inventory:              Cliff Bars (121 of them).  These allow you to skip breakfast without penalty.

To WIN, finish the week without:
losing artistic job #1 (AC1)
losing artistic job #2 (AC2)
losing artistic job #3 (AC3)
losing your girlfriend
disappointing your parents
breaking your commitments to yourself (i.e. write 30 minutes each day and get 2 query letters done this week)
running out of hit points

If you fail at any of these things, your character is dead.  Let's start easy.

Sunday, midnight.  You can:
1) Sleep.
2) Stick thumbtacks in your eyes. 

If you chose (2), lose 40 hit points.  You can quit now if this is getting too difficult.

Monday, 8:15 AM.  AC1 begins at 9 AM.
1) Get up and go to AC1: throwing teddy bears at children, which teaches them to get along.  Lose 4 hit points from energy exertion.
2) Lose your amazingly fulfilling day job.
3) Quit now.  Man, this blog is boring today.

Monday, 2 pm.  AC1 ends.  You are due at AC2 at 2:30.  To get there, you must add your movement rate for AC1 (to get home, 20) to your movement rate for AC2 (to get from home to AC2, 25). 
1) Cry.  Lose 40 hit points. 
2) Rush home, then to AC2 and try to be at your best.  This involves eating PBJ on-the-go for lunch: lose 2 hit points.  Lose another 4 hit points if you want to be present and keep your job at AC2.
3) Give up on doing artistic stuff and go watch tv.  (By the way, you can't afford cable.) 

Monday, 5 pm.  AC2 ends.
You have no further artistic commitments for the day. 
1) Head off to your first social commitment, a date with your lady.  Gain 2 hit points. 
2) Lose your girlfriend.  Didn't you read the rules?  

Monday, midnight.  You can:
1) Sleep.
2) Search the bedroom for dust mites.  Lose 6 hours of sleep.  What, are you allergic?

Gain 1 hit point for every hour of sleep until 10 am.

Tuesday, 10 am.  Your first AC - AC2 - isn't until 2 pm.  You have four hours.

Resting: Each 1/2 hour of rest will earn you back 1 hit point.  
Eating:  Take 20 minutes to eat and lose no hit points.  Take 10 minutes to eat and lose 1 hit point.  Skip lunch and lose 3 hit points. 
Don't forget your daily and weekly commitments.
Don't forget to include your movement rate when making sure that you're at AC2 by 2 pm. 

Tuesday, 2 pm.
1) Be present and energized at AC2.  Lose 10 hit points.
2) Lose AC2.  You really don't care for instructions, do you? 

Tuesday, 7 pm.  AC2 is over.  You are supposed to be at dinner at 7.  Movement rate to dinner: 40 
1) Are you seriously still reading this?  It will pay off.
2) Skip dinner.  Lose your girlfriend.  Your character is dead. 
3) Rush to a delicious dinner.  Gain 3 hit points for eating.

Tuesday, 11 pm.  You're home.

Make sure you finish your writing for the day.  
Gain 1 hit point for each full hour of sleep until 8:20 AM. 

Wednesday, 8:20 AM.  AC1 begins at 9 AM.
1) Go to work.

Good choice.  Lose 4 hit points or the kids won't like you and you'll lose AC1.

Wednesday, 1 pm.  AC1 ends.  AC2 begins at 2 pm.  Don't forget - to get to AC2, you must add your movement rate for AC1 (20) and AC 2(25).  

If you take less than 20 minutes for lunch, lose 1 hit point.  If you skip lunch, lose 3 hit points.  
If you make it to AC2 on time, lose 8 hit points for your time there, or lose AC2.

Wednesday, 5 pm.  AC2 ends, but is incomplete.  AC3 begins at 6:30 pm.  To get there, you must add your movement from AC2 (25) to your movement from AC3 (40).
If you take less than 20 minutes for dinner, lose 1 hit point.  If you skip dinner, lose 3 hit points. 
If you make it on time to AC3, lose 6 hit points for performing with energy.

Wednesday, 10:30 pm.
 Get as much sleep as you can.

If you don't allot 1 more hour to AC2, you lose AC2 and are dead.
If you don't allot at least 10 minutes to calling your girlfriend, you are dead.
Don't forget to include your movement rate, unless you plan to sleep at the BCA.
Don't forget your daily writing.
For each full hour of sleep until 8:20 AM, gain 1 hit point. 

Thursday, 8:20 AM.
1) Go to work.  Lose 4 hit points or the kids won't like you and you'll lose AC1.
2) Give up.  Lose AC1 and all hit points.  Your character is lame.  And dead.

Thursday, 1 pm.  AC1 ends.  AC2 begins at 2:30 pm.  Don't forget - to get to AC2, you must add your movement rate for AC1 (20) and AC 2(25). 

If you take less than 20 minutes for lunch, lose 1 hit point.  If you skip lunch, lose 3 hit points.  
If you make it to AC2 on time, lose 4 hit points for your time there, or lose AC2.

Thursday, 4:30 pm.  AC2 ends.  AC3 begins at 6:30.
You know the drill.  Movement rate for AC2 and AC3; if you skip or rush dinner, you suffer the hit point losses (3 or 1, accordingly) . . . 

Thursday, 6:30 pm
If you made it to AC3 on time, lose 6 hit points for performing with energy.

Thursday, 10:30 pm.  As you've made it home and finished your daily commitments, you may either:
1) Go to your girlfriend's house, hitting traffic on the way.  Movement rate: 45. 
2) Lose your girlfriend. 

Gain 1 hit point for each full hour of sleep until 8:20 AM.

Friday, 8:20 am.
1) Go to work.  Lose 4 hit points or the kids won't like you and you'll lose AC1.
2) Take today off.  Lose AC1.  You only get one day off for the year unless you're sick, and if you use it today, you may as well quit now.

Friday, 12:30 pm.  The second class canceled for today.  You get 30 minutes of your life back. 
Use this hour and a half as you like.

Friday, 2:00 pm.  An encounter!
You receive an email from the new agent who is perusing your manuscript.  They like it, but don't know how to market it and have chosen to pass.  Lose 2 hit points and 16 sanity points.  Use the remaining 5 hours as you like.  

If you take less than 20 minutes for linner, lose 1 hit point.  If you skip linner, lose 5 (!) hit points.  
If you choose to post in your blog, gain 4 sanity points. 

Friday, 7:00 pm.  AC3 begins.  Be on time!

Lose 5 hit points for performing with energy.
Are you still alive?  I am.  But I'm not at AC3 yet, and I'm at -12 sanity points.

Okay, so maybe I don't have anything on the ER doctor or the single mother, but man . . .

This artistic shit is harder than full plate dragonscale!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Prestige

Since I can't wow you with a success story about getting an agent, I am instead wowing you with a magic trick.

I disappeared and reappeared right back where I was.  Translation?  I've entered into an exclusivity agreement with an agent regarding my novel. 

Sound familiar?

Now, a good magician never reveals his tricks.  But suffice to say that it takes the sting off one rejection to know that there is another pretty girl waiting in the wings (Frankly, I can say now that I think she's even hotter than the first girl.). 

Next target date for fame: November 5.  No, I will not be getting famous by blowing up Parliament (but I might be going to jail for mentioning such things in a blog).  Such are the times.

Remember, remember . . .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Pledge

"This is the way the world ends.  Not with a bang, but a whimper."  - TS Eliot

I've decided not to go with the agent who was (previously) reading my manuscript.  Why?

1) They're professional.  I've had nothing but good experiences writing back and forth with them.  They've done what they said they will do.  They're clearly reliable, intelligent, informed, hard-working.

2) They aren't willing to represent me.

I'm not sure which is more important to me.  In any case, there were a few emails exchanged, polite and sincere words shared, and then, today, it is back to being "almost famous."  (Which would make a great movie title, by the by.  Someone get on that.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Judgment Day

It is always nice to see your name in print.  Or, at the very least, words vaguely pertaining to you below a picture of you in a mouse costume.

I'd like to address the latter (minus the mouse costume).  You see, I was flipping through the best-selling book in the history of books today -- solely for the purpose of trying to find the acknowledgments and, thus, the name of the author's agent and publicist (!!!) -- when I came across this:

" . . . and another book was opened, which is the book [under consideration]: and [writers] were judged out of those things which were written, according to their work." - Revelation 20:12  (Originally, it said "the dead" where I put "writers," but God, if I am dead before anyone judges my work . . . you know what I mean?  What a downer.  No thank you.) 

Now, this book is familiar to me from my youth (and probably to you, too).  We used to dress up nice and read it in big groups inside old buildings on Sunday mornings.  Or someone would stand in the front and read it to us. (It doesn't really matter.  The point is:  this book is very, very popular, and it seems to have some connection to Sunday.)

Still following?  Here's one more juicy tidbit to make your jaw drop open :  as of this posting, today is Sunday.  Ready for more?  It is also the final 24 hours of my exclusivity agreement.  HA!

Coincidence?  Unlikely.  A more likely scenario?  Sometime today, someone is going to take my manuscript into an old building in front of lots of people and they're going to read it aloud.  Then they're going to contact me and tell me I have the best-selling book of all time. (I would even settle for second-best.).

I hope they don't put me on speaker phone when they do it.  Those old buildings are echo-y.

By the way, here's another excerpt from that (current) best-selling book:

"If anyone's name was not found written in the book, he was thrown into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:15

Well, I can tell you whose names are written in my book.  Mine, and some characters I made up.  So unless you think I named a character after you, you may want to stay away from any lakes of fire tomorrow.  Trust me.

Oh, and if for some reason you doubt the sanity of this particular post, and you go read these verses for yourself to double check me, you really should continue on and read the stuff that comes next, too.  Not only is it really interesting, but I skimmed it, and it seems like it might be important.  Please let me know if it is.  I don't have time to worry about it right now.  I have to put on my "Sunday best" and wait for that echo-y phone call.

Judgment Day is here!

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Been Nice

Today is a day of significance.

If you've been following my almost-career from the beginning (it seems like only three days ago), you'll know that an agent is currently reviewing the manuscript for my novel, Cambridge Street, exclusively.  Well, that exclusivity agreement runs until October 3.  What's the date today?  That's right.  October 1.  (Unless you said a different date, in which case, "Wrong.  It's October 1.")  This is significant because today is the last business day before the end of exclusivity.  Which is significant because that means the "yes" call is coming any moment now.   

Now, as of this hour -- 1:48 pm -- I haven't heard anything.  But my last correspondence with said agent reads, " . . . we will be back in touch with you on or before the end of exclusivity on October 3rd."  Knowing that everyone in the writing business is always able to stay on-schedule, I am making preparations today for my ever-nearing launch into famosity.  I am undergoing as many "regular" activities as I can, while I still can. 

Celebrate some lasts with me.

9:12 AM  I paid my rent. (What famous person "rents?") 
9:17 AM I arrived at the subway station and used public transit. (Private limo.)
9:33 AM I arrived at work. (will sleep in regularly)
11:29 AM I shared a conversation with a friend. (won't have time)
12:21 PM I made my own lunch. (private chef)
12:49 PM I collected and washed my own laundry. (will buy new clothes when old ones get dirty)

I'm going to miss these things, but you just don't have room for them in your life once you're famous.  Being famous keeps you busy doing things like shopping and signing checks and doing guest lectures.  Everyone wants your opinion when you're famous.

But for today, I am regular.  I have my feet planted firmly on the ground, and sometimes I just sit and stare at them so I will remember what they look like there.    

Someone should really put those socks in the laundry.  I guess it'll have to be me.  For the time being, anyway.