Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Stories

Horror is one of my favorite forms of fiction to read and write. Halloween is great for two reasons: It's the one episode of the year for the Simpsons that is guaranteed to be okay and everyone's talking horror. 

So here are a few of my freely available horror-ish stories online:

Happy Halloween! Be sure to check out the anthologies I'm a part of by clicking here

The Dark Corners anthology is full of great pulp and includes my short story, "Voice of God."

JUNK is full of weirdo stories and includes my short story, "Flesh House." 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Snoop Dogg's Instagram and My Dreams of America

I had a dream last night that I was hanging with Snoop Dogg. He, for whatever reason, wanted to hang in my dump of an apartment in Texas of all places but all he did was update his Instagram. I was pretty stoked to be chilling with Snoop but I felt pretty frustrated that he was using all his time to take selfies, take pictures of his fingernail, take video of him dancing to whatever music we were listening to, and filming himself eating a fucking croissant (seriously).

Snoop's new character, Todd, who is white. 

Snoop is awesome. I still listen to Doggy Style often. Many people can attest to that. Gz and Hustlas is one of my favorite songs. It just hits all the emotional highs and lows you want from a song about being a bad ass motherfucker. But, come on, Snoop. When you're in my dream, you don't get to sit around and Instagram. 

Social media, as I've grown up with, is probably long gone. Nobody likes Facebook; it's full of twenty-somethings screaming  LOOK AT ME and other twenty-somethings, who can't stop looking at people they hate, looking and grimacing. I and most people I know are guilty of both. 

There are a few people I keep as "friends" just to see all the stupid shit they say. I have one friend who is constantly taking pictures of their feet in some cool place. Maybe it's an art project that will take years for me to understand but for now, at least, it's just a bunch of perfectly fine photos ruined by feet. So, yes, I can't stop looking at people I can't stand to look at. But this article will likely be posted on Facebook so I am also guilty of screaming to everyone to acknowledge that I can string a few words together and make them sound totally unlike a fart. 

This is the point. We are very good at demanding attention without ever giving any. So many of my conversations start off with, "Did you see what I posted about blah, blah, blah?" If I'm being asked, I usually lie and nod my head and say, "Yeah, I read the first paragraph. I plan to read it later." Then I find out they're talking about their goddamned foot photo. 

It's no longer very interesting. People with whom I agree on politics become insufferable rectal wrinkles online. People with whom I disagree have always been annoying and I pay more attention to them because they piss me off. I'm on an endless anger loop online and I don't think that I'm the only person becoming exhausted with it all.

But we are stuck. For people like me, who are separated from their families and old friends by states, social media, stale as it may be, is the only way to feel connected to them. It's the only way to feel like you see them every day. For every ten people I skip over, I am generally interested in one and that's enough to keep me logging in.

When Facebook goes the way of myspace, I doubt I'll sign up. I signed up for ello and it's already a ghost town. It took me awhile to sign up for Instagram, but I did. I still don't have snapchat because I have no fucking clue what it is and I'm sure I know nothing of what's coming next. It's already out there and some college kids are sending dick pics to each other with it. And in ten years all your Republican family members will join and the party will be over. 

Thanks for the jumping off point, Dream Snoop. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sub-frontal facial

"Why do you insist on calling it a headache when it is obviously a sub-frontal facial pain?" the doctor asked me. He pointed at his face.

"Why do you keep pointing at your dick, Dr. Dickhead?"

That is what I wish I had said in response to my doctor. Of course, the perfect comeback came while recounting the story to my family on the phone.

I thought about scheduling a follow-up appointment with the doctor only to construct the perfect setting to say that but I've found that the more I say it to myself, the less satisfied I'll be when saying it to its intended target.

Some people just don't get the backtalk they deserve and, since he's a doctor, he'll probably come up with a better comeback or he'll prescribe me nothing but suppositories for the rest of my life.

Big things are on the way from Weekly Weird Monthly. News to come!

In the meantime, read a short story. HERE (NSFW).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I left my dignity in the Taco Bell drive thru on MLK and Airport

Yesterday, a few of the Weekly Weirdos were celebrating the release of Weekly Weird Monthly Totally Nubs Out For Spiced Ham. We're getting older now so celebrating consisted of giving everyone a copy of the printed out thing, drinking a beer, then going to Taco Bell and parting ways.

See, Taco Bell is having this promotion. If you buy this abhorrent thing

in a snack box, or whatever the hell they call it, you get a chance to win a Playstation 4. I'm not 15 anymore so this doesn't arouse me in the same way it used to. The only way I'm going to acquire a PS4 is winning it after a Taco Bell induced bout of diarrhea. 

We all ordered our "food." I ordered the meal box from Hell. When we pulled up, the lady gives us a bag, all of our orders intact, but sans my box. I notice this the moment after she closes the window on me. 

So I sit there in silence, staring ahead at the passing cars in front me and contemplating the meaning of my life. I'm not going to honk to get her attention. I decided to just sit there and wait for her to look at the security camera and say to her coworker, "This fucking bearded shithead must want extra ketchup or some shit."

After a few minutes of asking myself why there is no God, she finally reopens the window. 

"Yes?" she asks, probably. I say probably because I wasn't paying attention to anything but my own lonely thoughts and the fact that what I was about to say next was in full view of my girlfriend and comrades who probably didn't know the depths of my pathetic nature.

"So, uh," I say, "I ordered the mega box thing. That's how you win a PS4, right?"

"Yeah," she says, still not aware of the direction my mouth is going.

"So I need the box."

That's right. Give me my fucking box. Because the box has the code. The code is what I have to text to the number to find out if I won or not, god dammit. 

"Oh, ok," she says, turns around, and hands me an empty box. 

We drove away in total silence.

"Don't you dare tell anyone about what you saw today, you fucking assholes."

I didn't win the PS4, by the way, but my toilet and I have been closer since last night. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Whilst we can

There's something about Americans who insist on spelling words the British way. I believe that they believe it makes them appear more sophisticated but it really looks like a pathetic attempt to appear sophisticated.

The British Surrender at Yorktown.

To the people I know that do this, this is not a personal attack. This is just my eyes' plea for mercy. I cannot abide another 'whilst' when you mean to write 'while.' The color of the sky is blue, no need for a 'u'.

Declaring ourselves independent of unnecessary vowels.

There is one thing that I don't get, though. These Yankees never spell 'curb' the way the Brits do. The Brits spell it 'kerb.' It's not as sophisticated looking as 'favour' so it gets kicked to the curb. If you insist on adding unnecessary us to your words, you're going to have to use an awkward k and e.

Admittedly, not the nicest thing we ever did. 

Now that that's out of the way.

Listen to the One Page Salon podcast! I'm reading one page of my novel-in-progress Invasion of the Weirdos. I get introduced by Jason Neulander at around the 50 minute mark.

Also! Weekly Weird Monthly is now accepting pre-orders of the Weekly Weird Monthly Totally Nubs Out for Spiced Ham chapbook. It's going to be a nasty delight with work from Ryan Sayles, Chris Rhatigan, Chris Mattix, Nina Barker, Cheryl Couture, Steven Warren, and yours truly. PRE-ORDER THAT SUCKER TODAY!


I had an experience with the worst doctor I have ever been to. See, the doctor I originally had under my insurance plan was phenomenal. He was a straight up, no bullshit kind of dude. I can understand some level of condescension from a doctor; they are, after all, superior beings of light. But the doctor I got assigned to after Cool Doc left the practice has to be the biggest turd bag on the planet. I've been having sinus headaches (which I've had since I was a kid). I told him this and he goes on an on about Californians moving here and then complaining about allergies. Save it, doctor. I came here for your medical expertise, not your senior thesis on American migration patterns.

This was the kicker though. He asked, "Why do you think it's sinus headaches?" I answer because it's been bothering me so I looked things up and asked people. He says, "You can't accurately pinpoint things until you've had a formal evaluation, don't you know that?" To which I reply, "That's why I'm fucking here." The guy wore hair gel and stunk of whey protein. I'm going to continue going to him because I hated him so goddamn much and that is very amusing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Millennial blah, blah, blah

If I never moved to Texas, I may have never become a fiction writer. Then again, I may have.

I tell people that the first year of living in Texas was the most depressing year of my life. I didn't know anyone in San Antonio and it was so sprawling that there was very little hope of meeting many people. I could have tried harder, yes, but I didn't.

It was a wonderful opportunity for growth to come out to Texas. I had a great job that enabled me to learn a ton of new skills I would have never learned. But I was the only employee for the grand majority of the time I was there and the grind of working alone and then going home to be alone started to turn me into a very emotional and lonely person. I have always been prone to depression and I think it is a genetic strain that runs through my family but I can say with total honesty that San Antonio was my lowest point. I'm very grateful for the opportunity I was given there. I learned a hell of a lot. I learned that you could be so depressed that your body physically hurts. 

But I also learned how to write beyond amateurish poems. My catalog of poetry published before Texas still exists and is still searchable on the internet much to my horror. In fact, only recently have my stories begun to replace the poetry. I'm a huge fan of poetry but I will be the first to admit that I cannot write it. Sometimes I got lucky and wrote something worth saving. Most times I was not.

It was in times of depression that I started to explore absurdity. My poems were becoming more narrative. They were getting longer. They were turning into very short stories. I ran with it.

Sure, I'd been writing short stories long before I came to Texas. But I was aping other people. I was trying to be a voice that I couldn't write with. Bukowski is great but it became clear that I was not honest when I imitated him. It was only when I was totally alone with my thoughts that I became free to write bizarro/horror/absurd-weirdo stuff. I was no longer worried about appearing as a serious writer. My work ethic proved I was a serious writer but my work probably wouldn't be talked about at a party where people discussed The New Yorker and ate gluten free crackers. 

I'm happy I moved to Texas and spent a year in the thresher. I've always been a writer but Texas helped me sound like myself.

Folks ask me if I'm ever moving back to California. The honest answer right now is, "I don't know." I love California. The Dodgers are my favorite sports team. I miss the beach. I grew from childhood into early-adulthood in California. But Texas has become a home. It could have killed me. I could have run back to the comforts and safety nets (social and financial) in California but I didn't. 

I stayed in Texas, quit my job in San Antonio, and moved to Austin without the promise of employment. I lied on my apartment application saying that I was employed and made $800 a month, they didn't follow up on that information and paired me up with a meth addict to live with. After 7 days of unemployment I got hired at a bookstore and became a proud member of the working poor, paying minimums on my credit card debt just to be able to use them at the grocery store again when my paycheck money ran out. I picked up odd jobs to help make ends meet. 

I made friends, I wrote a lot, I wrote advertorial blog posts for luxury watches I had never even seen in real life for $4 a post and wrote 5-10 a day until I couldn't bang my head against my desk any longer trying to figure out synonyms for luxurious. And still, I was constantly feeling the creditors' noose tighten around my neck.

So I got a part time job on top of my full time gig at the bookstore. And things finally started to fall in place. Now I'm back to one full time job but it's not at the bookstore. 

It's very easy for a person to think they've accomplished nothing and I am prone to thinking that I'm worthless and have nothing to show for, but I've come out the other side. My relative security may slip out from under me at any moment and I know that I will be able to make something work. I already have made things work and it's gotten me to some great places.

I may have grown up in Southern California, but Texas made me figure out who the hell I was. It gave me the reason to pursue whatever I wanted to pursue. I escaped comfort for chaos and I ended up doing okay for myself. 

Bret Easton Ellis wrote a piece on his idea that Millennials are Generation Wuss.  Sometimes I agree with him. Sometimes I look at my social media accounts and want to gouge my eyeballs out in terror about my own generation's whiny and petty over-agonizing over very trivial "outrages." We jump from one outrage to the next and think that verbalizing outrage is enough. Sure. Sometimes I believe we are a vapid generation. But we graduated in a time of economic chaos, we were raised in a culture that told us college was the miracle water that would cure all of our ailments, we were raised in a culture (created by the generations before us) that told us we were the most important and now we're becoming adults and everything has crashed and burned. Much of our adult years were spent in a sharply divided country at constant war. Maybe we do whine too much but every person I know is hard working, juggling multiple commitments at once, and making things work. We don't have the luxury of Generation X negativity that is belied by the knowledge that the only reason to be negative is to be counter to reality. 

As a child, I remember "news" stories and opinion pieces asking "Why is Generation X so lazy?" They turned out fine. Bret Easton Ellis has a nice life. Everything worked out okay, despite their perceived laziness. The same will be for the Millennials.

I look forward, in fact, to someday complaining about Generation Z's insistence on touching cow's assholes. Seriously, why do they do that?!

I'm still not where I want to be. There's a lot more struggling to get there. I may never get there but I am starting to realize that I am happy with things as they are. I will have more goals to replace goals that I've either given up on or attained. There will always be a new struggle. And there are plenty who have struggled far more than I ever have. I'm not saying I'm the boss-struggler here.

Struggling is real. Struggle is what makes life worth living. Struggling is how you find out who you are. There are no rules in life so do not box yourself in because of somebody else's perception of you or how you should be. Just go out and struggle, dammit.

So there it is. A very me-centric defense of Millennials.