Category Archives: Friends

Stand Up

Friend, former roommate, and fake uncle to my child Alex is working on a documentary about stand-up comedy and the potential offensiveness thereof that needs some financial assistance. You should help!

I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy, though I wish there were venues for it in my vicinity. There’s an Improv, and occasionally the big acts will pass through at the House of Blues or some-such, but there aren’t a ton of great dives you can just go to on a random weekend night and see too-soon-for-prime-time comics working on their craft.

Or maybe there are and I just don’t know about them? (Not that I really have time for that anyway.)

Stand-up has a lot in common with flash fiction. You’ve got to refine things to the sharpest, most concise version of this story (and most of the great jokes are stories). The best jokes of all can imply a whole story with just a few words. I think a lot of people overlook the writing portion of being a comedian, but they have to work on that shit. Even if I thought I could write good jokes, I’m not sure I would ever be up to the performance aspect of comedy.

I actually just wrote a story featuring stand-ups and jokes. It’s probably pretty offensive, but my gauge for these things is broken. We’ll see if it goes anywhere.

What I’m actually more worried about more than edgy jokes is that the reader has to project a lot of acting onto the characters. You can only insert so much into the text to indicate how dialogue is supposed to sound. There’s a contract you have to make with the reader –  roll these words around in your mouth until you laugh. Emphasize this syllable, not that one. Please time this right. Please make this funny for me.


Lift me Up

Have you gotten your subscription to the excellent KC’s serial novel yet? Well, why not? You can even get it at a discount, for now.

Incidentally, I finally got a smart phone (because that’s basically the only option you have any more), and Every Day Fiction just became exponentially more awesome. I can read these little stories on my phone via my email on my lunch break and it’s never been more convenient. And those are free. The other day there was a story by a 17-year-old girl woman that made me wonder why I still bother.

I have obtained (legally, natch) Louie CK’s new self-produced stand-up special. Hey, record labels? This is the sound of your obsolescence. And it is hilarious.

(Actually, the spawn makes it uncertain when I’ll actually get to watch said special, but that’s neither here nor there.)

I am reading China Miéville’s Embassytown, one of the several books I picked up at the Borders Estate sale. It’s great, you should read it. It’s about xenolinguistics. And smashing the state.

Buh. I am tired.

Friends like these

Belated Happy Evacuation Day, everyone! Hope you didn’t murder too many people on your shopping sprees.

I mentioned a while back that some friends were shooting a short film. You can watch the trailer now! It is beautiful and devastating. They are in post-production now.

Also, some other friends have assembled the greatest band ever. Be warned: your brain may probably will explode. I have seen them live and spent the following weeks wandering the wilds, forgetting all I thought I knew about civilization. I returned to find reality a pale, depressing proxy. You can listen to and download their album here.

Got a nice, useful rejection notice last week (week before last? who knows anymore?). I’m going to give that particular piece a re-write and see if anyone else wants it. Still waiting to hear back about my Christmas story.

I’ve watched Hell on Wheels, and I’m enjoying it quite a bit. Walking Dead is kind of on a downward spiral. The action is great when it’s there, and there is enough of the original story from the comics in there, so it’s tolerable. But the pacing is often frustratingly slow and there are very few likable characters. I should want these people to survive, right? EDIT: Just hours after writing this I watched the newest episode, and I take it all back.

For the love

Long-time friends Alex and Alissa are having a little fund-raiser for a short film that Alissa has written. These crazy kids moved to LA years ago, following their dreams, and I have been patiently awaiting that day in hopes of riding their coat-tails to fame and fortune.

I have read the script, an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury short story, and it is simultaneously beautiful, terrible, and sad. All the things great short fiction needs to be, in whatever medium.

Feel free to chip in here.

Low Expectations

In honor of President’s Day, today I’ll be stirring up fear about a tiny nation full of brown people and then invading it for monetary gain.

I kid the presidents, I kid. (Not really, though.) They get a lot of crap and for things they have nothing or little to do with. It takes millions of us to ensure that the nation as a whole consistently fails to live up to its own ideals.

All this unrest in the Mid East is at once exhilarating and depressing, in that it is awesome to see people standing up to oppression, and simultaneously aware that it’s hard to imagine that sort of thing happening here on any meaningful scale. I don’t know what it would take. An embargo on MP3 players and SUVs?

They even did it without guns, which is a concept completely alien to the majority here.

The Machinery here is is sturdy.

Sorry, don’t know why I’ve been so political and cynical lately. Blame Jens, if you must.

To end on a high note, holy crap Erin has a new post up.

Also, if you are not watching Justified I will truly give up on this country.


I just finished up Dawryn Cooke’s Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit. Crime fiction comics at its finest. This is volume two in the series, so I’d recommend picking up The Hunter first, though this was a stronger book, in my opinion. So, so good. I don’t always agree with Cooke’s views on the comics industry, but the man can draw and tell a story.

It also made excellent bedtime reading for the kid. At this rate she’ll be running grifts on me at age three.

You should also read friend Stephanie’s new story here.

Oh, I almost forgot: China Miéville is doing a webcomic of sorts over at his blog.


The Writer’s Ink crew had an excellent meeting the other night, and it was decided as a group goal that we’ll all be trying to write some 250 words a day during October. This is something we should be doing anyway, as a matter of policy, but I think various things have been conspiring to keep many of us from productivity this past year. We are hoping to get back at it!

I know I, for one, have not gotten nearly enough rejection letters this year.

It was perhaps inspired by this post, among other things.

We will be consulting these, should we need them.

Maybe I’ll try writing a novel a thousand words at a time.

Mad Middle Men

Jens wrote an excellent post about self-publishing via the intertron, go forth and read. Then come back.

The past ten years or so have seen a massive amount of conflict between the internet and traditional publishers of all sorts – record companies, book publishers, radio stations, comic strip syndicates, television studios, etc. In many ways it’s the same old feud that has always happened whenever new technology comes along, whether it’s FM radio, VHS, cassette recorders, whatever. The titans of the old industry can’t keep up with the times, and thus fade to obscurity if they can’t adjust. We’re seeing this with those pricks over at the RIAA right now. And, I suspect, we are seeing it with the current batch of book publishers, whose attempts to sell via the new e-readers may be doomed to become little more than a novelty rather than the revolution they should be. I will explain.

The current struggle we’re seeing between the internet and publishers is not one of old vs new industry, though; it is a gang of middle men versus the artists. Historically, that’s what publishers are – a group of editors, salespeople, and lawyers who pay the artist some amount of cash to produce content, which, until recently, only the publisher had the resources to promote and distribute.

There are lots of ways various artists are circumventing all of that. I doubt I need to go into how self-published creators are becoming successful. And in the process, they often get to keep their properties and their profits. This is common knowledge, right?

Theoretically, publishers serve a secondary purpose, that of a filter, right? These are supposed to be people who can recognize good content. I would say on the whole, though, they have failed us in that regard. Failed us terribly.

I thought this was particularly interesting from Jens:

Many ebooks produced by major companies sell, incredibly, in the $6-12 range. JA Konrath prices his at $2-3 and makes up for it with volume – volume and the amazing 70% royalties Amazon pays.

I’ve had this conversation with a few friends recently. I was looking at the prices of the books in Amazon’s Kindle store and was impressed by the prices, but not in a good way. It was no cheaper to buy the electronic books than it was to grab cheap paperbacks. And this isn’t even counting the cost of the device, which I consider ludicrous (maybe I’m just a cheap bastard, though). I get the (debatable) value gains of an e-book over a print copy, but I also understand that it costs the publisher less to put out that file than it does to print a few thousand copies (that may not sell) to send out to bookstore shelves. If iTunes can, with massive success for all parties involved, sell songs for a buck, there’s no reason a book publisher can’t sell a digital book for $2-3.

Is the Kindle (and related products) awesome? Absolutely. I can’t wait for someone to invent a nice big color version for my comic book addiction. But their business model and philosophy needs to catch up before people lose interest, shrug, and toss this luxury aside in favor of the next flash-in-the-pan gadget.

Content should not be considered a luxury, I guess is what I’m saying. Publishers should want an e-reader in everyone’s hands, and we writers should want that, too. E-readers should do for fiction what mp3 players have done for music. Make the pretty leather-bound edition of our novel the quaint luxury that I put on the shelf to impress visitors, not the digital ink.

Surely 100 million people buying books at $3 a piece is better than 3 million buying at $10 a piece? Not just for the companies, but for society as a whole?

Because, ultimately, things are evolving to where the artists no longer need these people who are attempting to control and bottleneck our content. In their panic, those people are probably going to screw things up for all of us.