Friday, December 6, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
This poem first was published online in the Winter 2012 edition of New Mirage Journal, but unfortunately for me, the site appears to have gone away. So, I'll post it here, with one edit: "glittering" originally was "glittered."
Regarding Joy and Grace
By Colin Foote Burch
Spinning, apropos or no,
Grooving on glittering club floors
Or shimmying on scorched highway medians:
You will be like the sunflower
Willfully set in the crack
Of the dirty city sidewalk,
Grateful the dark lattice dome crumbled
And now we have sky --
Blue, unbounded sky.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories by Robert Shapard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I found gems in this collection, like Stuart Dybek's "Sunday at the Zoo," which takes barely a page to accomplish craziness, desperation, and hilarity.
Raymond Carver's "Popular Mechanics" flares up and chars the imagination in little more than a page and a half.
In the Afterwords sections, I also found several insights into the short-short story from Dybek, Tobias Wolff, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Theroux, Russell Banks, Mark Strand, and several others.
For example, in one of the Afterwords, Joe David Bellamy writes, "Compression and concision have always been part of the aesthetic of the American short story form. Some writers, perhaps spurred on by information overload of our time, began to experiment with just how far these values could be pushed without losing the minimum weight needed for a memorable dramatic statement."
Fred Chappel writes, "Unease, whether humorous or sad, is the effect the short-short aims at."
Charles Baxter: "It's a test of the reader's ability to fly, using minimal materials."
Baxter again: "It's not that people don't have attention spans. They just don't believe in the future, and they're tired of information."
View all my reviews
The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field by Tara L. Masih
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The intro surprised me by establishing the historical and critical validity of "flash fiction." After all, acclaimed writers who've ducked under 1,000 words to tell a tale include Ernest Hemingway, Donald Barthelme, O. Henry, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jorge Luis Borges, Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Ambrose Bierce, Sherwood Anderson, Ron Carlson, Stuart Dybek, and many more. This book has 25 craft essays paired with 25 examples of flash fiction. It makes a heck of an intro as well as a short master class.
View all my reviews
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Monday, September 23, 2013
Agent 44 usually met Maxwell Smart in odd places.
“…this is a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world…”
+44 is a band formed by two members of Blink-182.
Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States.
In baseball, 44 is the retired number for Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson.
44 is the retired number for football players Floyd Little and Pete Retzlaff.
The international direct dial code for the United Kingdom is 44.
The 44th state to join the union was Wyoming.
There are 44 candles in a box of Hanukkah candles.
44 is the atomic number for ruthenium.
And today, I'm 44.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Today I stole a back massage.
It was a smash-and-grab operation.
Around lunch time, I went to the Massage Therapy Center at the corner of my street and the highway.
I punched the window. The glass smashed, just as I had planned.
I grabbed the first massage lady I saw, according to plan.
Lucky for me, I picked a room with a small massage lady.
As the last of the glass tinkled to the floor, I heard New Age music and snoring. The massage lady's client remained stagnant, face-down on the massage table, with more hair on his back than all the candles in Christendom could wax.
I slung the massage lady onto my back. I hooked my hands under her knees, and I ran down the uneven dirt on the side of the street.
"I know it's a bit bumpy," I said over my shoulder. "But I still expect quality service."
She didn't seem to speak English, so I don't know what she was screaming.
I was lucky a second time: Her hands were still slick with the oil she was using on her client, who I imagined would be late returning to work because no one was there to wake him.
I almost stumbled on a chunk of asphalt, but the massage lady's hands only popped from my trapezoid muscles for a split second. The massage lady, although screaming, was providing quality service.
I heard sirens, probably three blocks away.
"OK," I said. "It's time to ditch you. I've been watching the evening news very closely. Most thieves toss pocketbooks and wallets into dumpsters. Do you know where there's a dumpster around here?"
The massage lady was no longer screaming. She was yelling at me, quite angrily, as she kneaded my shoulders, but I didn't know her language.
"Look," I said. "I realize most massage ladies are more valuable than pocketbooks and wallets. So I'll tell you what. Here."
I walked over to a large pickup truck in the liquor store parking lot, turned, and backed toward the hood. Her knuckles hastened between my shoulder blades, trying to complete at least part of her quality service.
With a little shrug, my stolen massage was off my back, sitting on the hood of a pickup truck.
"You might want to get down from there," I said. "The truck's owner might suppose someone left him a gift massage."
At that point, the sirens were probably a block away. So I wiped my fingerprints off the backs of her knees and ran.
She yelled something at my back, but she wasn't yelling English. I bet the local cops don't know her language, either.
You know what? My neck and shoulders have never felt better. But my legs sure are sore.
Around the web:
Sunday, July 21, 2013
A 'Calvin & Hobbes' documentary; fewer Americans search Bing for 'how to have sex'; & Woody Allen's possible return to stand-up prompts a look at his books
Where would you be without Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip? Where would I be? A soon-to-be-released documentary appears to be answering just those questions. See the trailer here.
It's amazing what keyword research reveals, especially about the fluctuations in trends. And on Bing, fewer Americans are searching for "how to have sex." See how that phrase is compared and contrasted with other keywords.
The release of Woody Allen's new movie, Blue Jasmine, has been an opportunity for interviews, and at least one interview allows that the writer-director might get back to his stand-up comedy. Read about it here -- and read two excerpts from books Allen wrote during his stand-up days.