Monday, September 24, 2012

The End, Again, and a New Adventure

I’m Not Emilio Estevez has come to an end, again.  I’ll leave the site up, along with Thinly Sliced Raw Fish.  Comments will be turned to moderation to prevent spam that seems to find it’s way to defunct sites, so feel free to leave a comment and I’ll approve if it’s not junk. 

Though I’m quitting this blog, I’m starting another one with a different purpose:  A Specific Gravity, which will focus on my non-fiction adventures in craft beer.  It'll be live soon.

So long!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's the Point?

One of the challenges I had with this blog was, what’s the purpose of it?  Should it be to post thoughts about writing fiction, or to post my flash fiction, or to comment on other works or ideas out there, or something else?  The last few posts aside, I’ve tried to shy away from posting my thoughts about anything and made it mostly straight posts of fiction.  Perhaps it should’ve been more than that.  But know that "what's the point?" has long been a struggle of mine with this blog.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Writer's Block, Sorta Kinda

The last year has been very challenging for me as a writer.  I’ve been in what might be considered a block, though I’ve been writing through that in fits and starts.  It’s more a lack of direction and an overall lack of desire that I think I’ve been experiencing.  I’ve worked in collections for a long time, which has provided me direction, but I’ve struggled to come up with new collection themes.  I haven’t really submitted anything for publication.  I really haven’t had the desire to go through that process and receive the many rejections that come before hitting an acceptance.  I view this last year as just a phase, one that I’ll eventually emerge from as a stronger writer.  In the end, I don’t think there’s anything that the blogging experience can do to assist me in getting out of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Asleep at the Wheel

I had the realization that things were done with the blog when, after not doing so in awhile, I looked at some of the blogs that I follow.  Many of them are now gone or essentially defunct, as the bloggers haven’t posted in quite awhile.  The fact that I hadn’t taken a peek at these blogs in such a long time is at the core of my problem here—I’ve fallen out of touch, and I’ve failed at keeping up with and encouraging other writers.  I’ve been posting new stories regularly here since I returned.  I've received scant comments though the traffic stats do indicate that people are still visiting the site.  I could bemoan the lack of commenting, but it’s really my fault for falling asleep at the wheel here, and there seems to be no way to correct this as the small network I’d tapped into just a couple years ago now seems to be essentially gone.

More to come... 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Ridiculously Short Half-Life

I'm Not Emilio Estevez 2.0 is winding down.  This time, it'll be for good.  It's not quite over yet, as I'll have some posts coming documenting my thoughts on the whole blogging experience.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


One day as a child C, at a steakhouse, glimpsed the future: the restaurant closed, covered in graffiti, crumbling parking lot asphalt sprouting weeds.  Neighborhood overrun by crime’s chaos.  Teenage boy lying in blood where C sat, another boy standing over him, firing a gun. In C’s present, it was a place for Friday evening dinners, sliding  plastic trays along cafeteria-style metal rails, fountain sodas in plastic cups, plastic wrap covered pudding.  Frozen by the stark images, the child said nothing to his parents, instead quietly ate his ribeye and fries, both drowned in A1 and ketchup, drank his soda.

He had no more visions.  Eventually, he saw the abandoned building, read about the shooting.  Years later, he found the shooter from the vision, 24 years in prison, asked him why.  Money and drugs, thought I was bad, got a son I haven’t seen since he was a baby.  Sitting across from him, another vision, indeterminate future: the adult son robs a coffee shop, kills the clerk, two bystanders.  After some searching, he found the place, went for coffee.  Cradled the warm cup in his hands when a robber fired shots.  Searing heat through his chest.  The coffee spilled, mixed with blood.  He collapsed, thinking the visions senseless, random films of violence.

Friday, August 31, 2012


When filming we use the old standby of ketchup for blood. Consider this a mere condiment on an otherwise exquisite entrĂ©e, I tell my corpse lying on the floor, who winks at me as I squeeze out a fatal wound. An old cap gun for gunshots. Plastic dime-store knives in stalker scenarios. Kid stuff. I use the same ketchup bottle on burgers, hot dogs, scrambled eggs. My father used it exclusively on fish but late in life confessed he’d grown fond of it on fries. On film it often looked too thick to be blood. Wipe off some, distort the focus, shoot from a distance—bargain basement guerilla indie aesthetic. When I was a kid we shot movies without cameras. Act and direct, but no historical document. The ultimate punk attitude. History is for suckers.

One night an expressway onramp was blocked by police. We moved closer to see. An overturned car on a curve. Sheet draped over body, a puddle of red on the ground. Real. The cop looked up, said, you want to see death? We ran away. The next day we scanned the papers and tv for mention of it. Nothing. No history. I pull back from my corpse, who blinks an irritated eye. Someday we’ll get it right.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


On Christmas Eve E and R were in R’s apartment, cracking open walnuts, drinking tap water.  They were sitting at the dining room table, a tabletop artificial Christmas tree flickering before them.  Outside a snow storm pelted windows, an erratic wind sent nonpareil flakes in all directions.  R was apologetic to friend E about the sparse offerings. E, nowhere else to go this holiday, consoled his friend.  They talked about old times, laughed into the night.  At 2:00 AM, R encountered a walnut that just wouldn’t open.  E tried also.  Nothing.  Like a stone.  So they walked outside, the snow down to flurries, the world silent.  Down to us and the world’s asleep, E said, just like old times.  Remember back when? said E.  Yeah, said R, the parties, the hearty food and drink, the music, the crowds of people.  Where are they now?  Where are we, E said, looking straight ahead, eyes frozen.  R looked upward to the apartment.  White ceilings, generic light.  No decorations.  The years kept disappearing.  Erasure of what was, who they were.  Wind, snow pelted them both.  R thought he should’ve bought drinks, festive food, put up window lights.  Somewhere old friends, dispersed geographically, celebrated.  He threw the unbreakable walnut.  It sunk into a mound of snow.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Steak Tartare

S goes Gordon Gekko, orders the steak tartare.  He looks down at the raw egg on raw meat.  He’s an imposter.  This isn’t his life.  He wants to vomit.
N is tantalized by the idea, calls around town.  Nowhere.  One place leads him to another and another.  Other odd foods.  Craving exotic, he heads off, never to return.
X grabs what he can, jumps on his horse.  Invaders all around, axes and dust, swords and blood.  Somewhere in the sunset he’ll eat.  Alone.  The blood of his kinsmen in his nostrils.
L, a gun to his head, prays.  The fire in his assailant’s eyes tells him the situation is lost.  Quick and painless.  Protect my family.  Deliver my corpse for closure.
A sees things he can’t have.  Money, prestige, power.  If he gains some, there’s always more.  Life unfinished.  His existence a never formed product.
V, in a world devoid of fire and electricity, forms a circle of uncooked meat, tops it with a fresh cracked egg.  The question is, from where did the meat and egg come in this dystopia?
Gordon Gekko, freed from prison, orders the steak tartare.  He looks down at the meal and smiles.  Greed is eternal.  He’s got a plan.  He takes a bite, reclaims his life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


This was the day when you were going to show me how to prepare squid for dining.  But you never arrived.  Slicing into rings; stuffing with brown rice, snow peas, and red peppers; deep frying the tentacles—the possibilities, you told me, but you were absent.  I was afraid of the squid, but once we started seeing each other, and you convinced me of your culinary skills, I started believing there was no food to be afraid of.  Now, you’re gone.  I called your house, you weren’t there.  I called your work, nothing.  The mail came and, there it was, a letter from you, signed and dated yesterday, multiple pages, blue ink on both sides.  It’s not working out, you needed to move on—but nothing about the squid.  Once you realized that I wasn’t the one for you, I suppose cuisine was secondary.  Now, though, whenever I think of squid, I’ll think of this, and be distraught.  As food, squid will be nonexistent, just as you now apparently are.  I’ll be left to wonder, what happened, did I do something specific to make you disappear. Perhaps someday we’ll meet again, say, hey, how’re you, but I see elusiveness, you only appearing in my fading memory, as I eventually question you existed.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


We were in the bedroom upstairs when I told her the three people downstairs were not my family.  The room felt like cotton, smelled like it had been enclosed for decades.  Her hair was wet and she smelled like Bath and Body Works raspberries.  At first she didn’t understand, thought I was joking.

Were you adopted, she said, because, you know, that’s okay, it can still be family.

No, they’re not my family.  Not in any sense.  I don’t actually have a sister.  I’ve only known them for a few weeks.  I’m renting them.

I was holding her hand as I told her.  Thin, bones like delicate museum fossils in soft fleshy bag.  She released herself and kept her hands tight under her arms, dropped her head and clenched her eyes shut.

That morning, we drove 200 miles to get there and she held my hand and slept.  We moved through fields of horses and carefully groomed farms, all of it looking still, manufactured painting landscapes.  Ate lunch at a Cracker Barrel.  Browsed the collections of manufactured to look authentically worn knick knacks, bought glass bottles of Stewart’s Root Beer.

Exiting the highway, we had to travel through the remnants of a small town Main Street to hit the sprawling development of box houses.  It still had a general store.  Window signs advertised handmade ice cream and prepaid cell phone cards.

My real parents lived about 200 miles in the other direction from where we came.  They were probably sitting around in their dilapidated too small house doing crosswords and reading remaindered books and not pretending they are waiting for a phone call or a letter.  Who knows when I last talked to them.  But long ago I determined they were too real.  Dad would say three words in two hours and Mom didn’t know how to cook.  I was the son who didn't care, didn't pay attention, couldn't be bothered.

So it’s time for dinner and I start to head downstairs.  The smell of poultry ripe with spices filled the air.  At the top of the steps, I’m waiting for her to join me, reciting the list of conversation topics I'd compiled in my mind.  I stand there, waiting for movement, the two of us to descend as one, the bedroom quiet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Soft Shell Crab

I wish that I could have saved David Foster Wallace.  I wish I could have stopped him before he killed himself, said, no, David, and have him walk away.  I wish I could have had him over for dinner, taken him to lunch, done a culinary tour with him, have him consider the soft shell crab.  The crustacean in between stages, shell-less and vulnerable to the world’s ravaging.  We could have fried peeler sandwiches and he would go off on a tangent about you’ve never seen something so incestuous as a college level science fiction writing workshop.  It’s like walking into a sci-fi convention and being graded, he would say, and you’re the only one not in costume and are thus sitting on the outside, the outsider ripe for devouring.  I would nod, agreeing from my own life experiences, ripping off a bite of bread and crunchy legs.  Sometimes, though, you must be willing to lose your shell and just be naked, I might add, and just be there, exposed.  I could see him nodding his head, understanding but not fully absorbing, already knowing but not comfortable.  Soon, our sandwiches would be done and we’d go our separate ways.  Back to our homes.  Climb back into your shell, David.  Maybe just maybe.    

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dear The Balance of Terror

Dear The Balance of Terror:

Sorry I missed you the last time you were around.  I’m afraid people will look at this in the future when such things are inevitably made into consumable compendiums (compendia?) and think, what was this about and how could you write a letter to something called “the balance of terror”?  The balance of terror is just what I was afraid of—this is what I can tell you.  It’s complicated beyond that and it brings up some uncomfortable truths that I cannot share in this format.  Please don’t, please don’t—I might scream deep down in those depths.

Anyway, I’ll go off on a tangent here (deflecting, denial, etc.).  The Balance of Terror is the title of my lifetime collection of short fiction.  It has no form yet since it is not yet completed (I’m still alive, as of this writing), but it is still somewhere, bound together in some unseen dimension, the one unbound by time.  Flip to page 241.  Yeah, I was amazed too.  Will that be my writing?  I can’t wait!

So, here at the end, some may wonder, what does that first sentence (Sorry I missed…) mean?  It means I’m afraid, but I’m okay.  You will find out more if you stay tuned.  I hope you will.



Friday, August 10, 2012

Let's Start with the End

Okay, I’m the one who’s been tasked to write informational notes for you, the extraterrestrial visiting our planet.  Make it snappy, our head honcho said, give ‘em little bits each time, I know you can do it.  Well, I’m going to assume you can either read English or have a nifty translation device.  Let’s start with the end—death.  Upbeat, huh?  Well, you should’ve seen our twentieth century.  I assume you know about death and aren’t immortal.  Maybe you are immortal and you’ve been able to travel hundreds or thousands of years through space to reach us.  I think immortality is boring.  Perhaps you do too which is why you decided to travel the universe.  My doctor told me to exercise so I don’t have poor health later in life like my father.  My father lived when eating a rare porterhouse was the mark of a man.  Depending upon where you land on our planet, eating dead bovine flesh is considered either decadence or sacrilege.  My head honcho looks like a guy who might eat a porterhouse.  But he’s not.  He’s buried in debt, wears stained clothing, and we laugh at him.  Anyway, here’s how life works—you’re born/created, you live 75 years if you’re lucky, then you die.  What happens when you die, you might ask.  Well, that’s a big debate.  I won’t get into it here.  My dad died and I miss him.  That’s what I know.  Next time, I’ll try to be more upbeat.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tips for the Prospective Superhero

Expose yourself to radiation.  Work out daily and lay off the Twinkies.  Acquire large sums of cash.  Learn to sew.  Work in the pharmaceutical or genetics industry.  Expose a predatory insect to radiation then have it bite you.  Buy large rolls of spandex from fabric store.  Have relatives or friends who may be clones.  Rent a spacious top-level apartment in the city with a skylight and non-inquisitive neighbors.  Drop out of school.  Buy a journal and keep a list of excuses.  Run wind sprints and lay off the beer.  Use teeth whitener.  Be at the end of your rope and take a head-hanging walk through the worst part of town.  Learn how to dodge bullets.  Find a town with a super villain and move there.  Keep your girlfriend/boyfriend at a distance.  Live in the worst part of town.  Learn how to keep your cool and tell one-liners under stress.  Keep a list of secluded spots for changing clothes.  Go to therapy for your acrophobia.  Be an orphan.  Buy glasses.  Work in law or the aerospace industry.  Spend large sums of cash.  Throw away your television.  Have trouble paying your bills.  Learn kung fu.  Have your girlfriend/boyfriend and/or any of your relatives die tragically.  Talk to yourself in long explanatory monologues.  Have foster parents.  Expose yourself to lab experiments that most likely will go awry.  Have parents who you think are your parents but actually aren't.  Be an enigma.  Never age.  Work the night shift.  Die and come back to life.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dear Animal Behavior

Dear Animal Behavior:

Am I doing this right?  I had an idea for a story and thought it was a good one but then as I was writing the story I felt that it was like writing with shackles, writing in a cage, if you'll pardon that metaphor since that is something sensitive to you.  I know that you write—do you ever experience this situation, where you're writing and you feel like maybe, just maybe, you could do something more if you didn't go ahead and put this restraint on yourself?  Why restraints, I often wonder?  Why do we do this to ourselves?  There are no awards to be gained by such a thing, no place where our names are forever enshrined.  I know that you write the way people think you might—with abandon, ferocity, and insatiability.  This is one thing of various things I admire about you.  This is why I come back to you time and again for advice.

Sincerely yours,


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This Is Not A George Saunders Story

This is not a George Saunders story.  It’s not that story “Pastoralia” where people are living in a simulated theme park cave.  No, it’s just me living in a cave, and I’m nowhere near as clever as George Saunders.  You might be here looking for something else, something more profound or even biting satire of absurdism but, nope, just me in a cave.

If you come by, which I don’t recommend, I’ll be sitting there, staring at a dim crackling fire, listening to Nirvana feedback with my makeshift stereo system.  Call this my navel gazing.  Call this my whatever you want.  If you reach the end and say, I like the conceit of this, I like how he uses himself and George Saunders and so on, you’ve missed the point.  Remember, this is not a George Saunders story.  It’s just me.  In a cave.

Now, here’s the part where I complain.  I need a vacation or, ideally, a paid sabbatical, but I am not getting one.  So, this is how I ended up in the cave.  I’m burned out.  Like the flickering flame in my fake cave, my spark is dying out.  You’ll read this and refer back to the previous paragraph and you might also be tempted to make a Kurt Cobain connection but don’t do that.  If you stick around long enough, Nirvana’s “Marigold” will play and you’ll notice the lack of Cobain and search for meaning there, but please don’t.  Just remember, it’s me in a cave.  I need time off.  I need a new perspective.

Now this is where I clumsily stumble toward an ending.  I turn down the audio graffiti of “Endless Nameless,” a pointless reaction akin to turning down the car radio when you see a traffic accident.  I look up at the cave wall and notice previously unnoticed writing in paint.  Someone has lived in this cave before, it seems, and has written a narrative.  It’s a story about people living in a simulated theme park cave.

But remember this is not a George Saunders story.  This is just me living in a cave.  I need a vacation.  Cobain screams, silence, hear I am, hear I am, silent.  The squeal of guitar drowns out voice.  You might be looking for something else.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book Inscription: The Pale King


Dear S----

You'd told me before that you'd wanted to get into DFW but couldn't.  I don't know if, since we last talked, you've been able to, but I really think you should give The Pale King a chance.  It's incomplete and you can tell where it's patched together, but DFW, with kudos to his editor, is one of the few to have created a fiction work of art that's not finished.  Ironically enough, it feels that this book should be the beginning point for studying DFW.

I still remember that night we sat around my apartment table and drank beer and bemoaned the state of writers and artists dead too soon.  Do you remember that night's big wind storm?  Anyway, you're in another state now, and our lives have become different things and we won't likely have those times again.  When I read this book, along with enjoying it, I felt pain that someone as gifted as DFW couldn't bear to live and was besieged by depression and I realized there wouldn't be anymore after this.  He's being hailed as the most significant writer of his time.  How cruel for us all.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dear Spontaneous Combustion

Dear Spontaneous Combustion:

What's up, and why do you keep doing that?  People become fireballs, their existences turned into piles of ashes, spots of human grease.  No one has verifiable proof that someone has spontaneously combusted.  There is no defense against it.  Drinking vodka and smoking?  Eating greasy foods and smoking?  Not properly hydrating yourself and, um, smoking, or just being in an arid climate where the odds of combustion are greatly increased?

If I could draw your picture, you’d have a reddish hue, a devilish grin, be sort of like a devil but not really one, you know?  I wouldn’t give you a pitchfork tail or horns, for instance.  But a pointed black goatee?  Yes, definitely.  My neighbor has one and he’s devilish.  He lets his dog poop on my lawn and I know his kids stole bulbs from my Christmas decorations.

I know it’s kind of dumb for me to call attention to myself when you so rarely inflict yourself upon the human race so I’m just imploring you to consider I’m not making light of you here.  I take you seriously.  I know you’re real, that there’s a difference between you and pedestrian intentional fire setting.

Anyway, I know if you had a band you’d burn your guitars, you’d demolish your drums.  You’d sing, this ain’t no fooling around, implore us to dance with you, slam with you, take your partner, churn to the left.  We’d raise our hands.  We would obey.



Monday, July 23, 2012

New Car Smell

The first new car my parents bought was a Pontiac T-1000—a copy of the Chevrolet Chevette, the name later changed to just Pontiac 1000. My first dosage of new car smell, as we rode home in the pristine, burgundy seats and carpeting, the floors still with the paper covering the rubber floormats, clear plastic that had until recently covered the seats stuffed under the passenger’s seat. The old car, a used Datsun, abandoned at the dealer, the weird sensation of a trusted piece of the family now gone, efficiently replaced with some paper signing. That smell, I said, inhaling deeply. Yeah, my father said, but it goes away, it doesn’t last more than a few weeks. Maybe they should make a spray so you could always have it. My mother, in the passenger seat, was quiet, writing a list of things for Easter, which was just three days away, using the owner’s manual as a writing surface. My brother would’ve been there but he was off with his friends, playing pinball, finding trouble. The car would be his to drive soon enough—to be his own with dings and dents, a broken windshield winding handle. After the first traffic light, there was the beltway entrance, open space. He shifted gears; the car paused, then jumped to the on-ramp. I leaned against the window, counted passing Volkswagen Beetles to myself.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Orpheus, Don't Look Back, Dude

So, graduates, you've made it up the ladder and now it's time for you to keep going up into the clouds and as you do, I implore you to remember the words to Orpheus, don’t look back, dude, and also to Lot and his wife,  and, in this case with the ladder, said back is decidedly down.  Anyway, graduates, my words to you are, don’t do it, whatever it may be.  You're still too young to do anything correctly.  Wait until you're at least 30 before you try anything on your own.  One other thing I can impart to you is that it’s difficult being the god of thunder these days.  That’s a little joke slash pickup line I like to use, and as you can see from my list of invited guests, one that's met with painfully nonexistent success.  Yes, I know, painful, a term you're meditating on right this moment, and if you think of Thor and the Norse gods, you might also think, smelly, like mushrooms or old cheeses, or may I use the word mead?  People don’t talk about mead much anymore, like they did back in the sixth century.  They don’t talk about Grendel’s mother much like they used to either, if you've noticed, but if you’ve just finished college, which is what I suspect if you’re sitting here right now listening to what I'm saying because one, why would you be here and not among the passed-out dregs of an all-night kegger if you weren’t now finished college, and two, who wears these silly caps and gowns unless someone’s handing you a sheepskin?  Yes, I know, you’re probably thinking of various unmentionable scenarios—again, wait until you're 30.

Anyway, you’re probably thinking, here at the end of your college career, enough of the Grendel, his mother, Beowulf, Hrothschild or whatever that guy’s name was and all these answers to exam questions that I got wrong anyway and get me a freaking job already.  Yes, you, Mr. Speaker Dude, get me employed, why don't you?  Okay, here’s a job for you—translate Beowulf back into its native Spanish.  With your eyes closed.  Did you know that Beowulf was originally composed in Spanish?  Yeah, me neither!  Well, if you can do it, I'm willing to pay you what you're going to make in the coming year as you cash in on your major-related profession, which is the grand sum of bupkis.  Don't worry, though, the compensation you'll really get is the satisfaction of doing a noble deed, which will make you equivalent with the king of the Danes in my book, and when you reach my age, you'll realize is truly the definition of bupkis.  

Anyway, before you climb that corporate ladder—a completely different ladder than this college ladder you just climbed up, which means you're going to have gingerly climb down to the bottom and start anew—you’re going to need a haircut.  And you’re going to need a haircut that’s so deep that it trims those nasty bits of your conscience off.  You know, the moral/ethical parts, which hopefully you’ve let grow a bit while you were in college and on your parents’ or the federal government’s dime.  Graduates, I've seen the future of this world and it has had part of its brain removed.  After that, you're going to need several pairs of good shoes, because you're going to keep wearing out a pair every ten thousand steps you take up that ladder, and it's only right that you drop that spent pair right on the head of the guy or girl just below you, as such behavior is the basis of capitalism and probably an economics lesson you slept through three, four, five, six years ago.  So now, I'll send you forth, graduates, with this last piece of wisdom—there's going to be a huge party at the provost's place right after this, and you're not invited.  But take heart, this is also one of the tenets of capitalism, that you get to have wild indulgent parties and rub it in the faces of those not invited.  More appropriately for you right now, there will be wild indulgent parties, and you will not be invited.

So, if you think you've remembered enough of freshman literature and you'll be like Grendel and try to crash the party and exact revenge upon the merry noisemakers, think again.  We'll be armed to the teeth.  With that, you got an extra bonus nugget regarding capitalism, and, as it keeps trickling down, you'll get even another: nothing comes free unless you truly have all the money in the world and don't need it.  Now for the kicker--you'll be receiving a bill for these juicy tidbits, which is going to look awfully similar to the rolled up scroll that this grey-bearded dude is about to hand you.  Yes, it's quite pricey and for what, exactly?  This is the same question your parents are asking themselves right now.  So, again, don't look back, dude, and not because your loved one will be whisked back to Hades or turned to a mound of salt, but because your parents, they're not there anymore to foot the bill, but, man, they're laughing their butts off.  Truly.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Sampling of Maybes

Maybe I’m wasted. Maybe I’m non-icon. Maybe I like using hyphens. Maybe I’m all about cultural stupidity. Maybe I’ll write a story about a man who does nothing but sit in his apartment and look at leaves fall. Maybe I’ll reflect the disgruntled stupidity of whatever. Maybe here we are in interstellar space.  Maybe there is the plethora of information.  Maybe I need to blow it all up and start again. Maybe I'd like to get back the buzz of old days.  Maybe the dark hanging tree the those dead yesterdays the shady days of young never will be.  Maybe I'll climb Everest and buy my own island and get into selling coconuts.  Maybe I am coconuts.  Maybe I'm partially asleep.  Maybe I'm so far asleep that I'm snoring and drooling and I don't even move when an air horn makes noise.  Maybe there once was a man.  Maybe you'll never see me again.  Maybe you won't mind when I use the word "bereft."  Maybe I'm the shallowest man on the planet.  Maybe I'm so polite that I can't even eat cake anymore.  Maybe not maybe.  Maybe you should think more of an English-style pub.  Maybe you'll become Kansas.  Maybe I'll become Wyoming if first you become Kansas.  Maybe I'll be road schematics.  Maybe I'll be road schematics with ink blotch roadkill.  Maybe the sun breaks through the trees and illuminates the room.  Maybe I'm writing to you from the future.  Maybe I'm writing to you from two seconds in the future.  Maybe I'm the coarse remains of a Chaucer scrap heap.  Maybe this is not autobiography.  Maybe the moment never fades away.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Postcard: Enjoy Indiana!

Flat lands, flowing wheat, blue sky.  The only souvenir we got were these postcards, free rest stop goods.  We went to Indianapolis.  They stole our team, Dad kept saying.  He would’ve cried seeing the Colts logos if he weren’t seething with anger.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dear Long Distance

Dear Long Distance:

Yesterday morning, after waking up, I put on the previous day’s pants and shirt, went to Dunkin’ Donuts for a cruller and coffee.  I thought I would sit in the shop, watch people come in and out at the starts (or in some case, the ends) of their days.  It was only 6:30, the day still like a fog, the gray haze of a sunless day that gave the world a Scottish feel, like marauding armies are waiting to strike.  I have not sat in a Dunkin’ Donuts since I was a child.  My dad would drive us to one fifteen miles away from our home and I’d get an orange juice and a strawberry frosted donut and he’d read the paper and drink coffee and give me the rundown on the previous day’s baseball games.  I loved those donuts but somewhere along the way they changed the frosting and now it’s like eating pink plastic.  Anyway, yesterday’s donut shop was depressing.  It was filled with older folks who sat in groups at tables.  Some read newspapers or worked on crosswords.  One man had a severe shrieking cough.  They said nothing to one another, looked at me once or twice.  Looking at them, I couldn’t help but feel that they were dropped off here, that there was nothing else for them to do.  People came and went, some their age with two coffees.  If my dad were still alive, I can’t imagine he’d be one of these folks.  He’d be one to come and go.  He always had things to do.

I remember when Dad drove home, I’d look out the window from the back seat and count the old Volkswagen Beetles.  Dad would fiddle around with AM radio, settle on songs from the 50s.  I remember one time counting 47 of those cars.  Yesterday, I decided to count them driving home and I saw not one.  I kept driving until I saw one.  It was cherry red and was sitting in a repair shop parking lot.  I smiled, wondered, how many miles does it have, how many stories could it tell?  Then I went home.

All the best,


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What I Was Thinking: Writing for Writing's Sake

What I was thinking is that it is more important to be immersed in the work, writing for writing's sake, actually performing the art form that you're working at, then doing anything else but that.  Writing, in its essence, is the solitary act of one sitting in front of a blank piece of paper or screen and writing words.  Recognition should be secondary to solitary pursuit of writing.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dear Border Town

Dear Border Town:

How’re things down by the, um, border?  I know we don’t talk much anymore and for that, I’m sorry.  Anyway, I‘ve been thinking that if there would be a movie version of Border Town, I’d want it to be a western, and I’d want it to star Peter Sellers.  Of course, he’d have to play multiple roles.  He’d be the sheriff who is also the snarling bad guy who’s trying to take over the town, the aging gunslinger who’s always drinking whiskey at the bar, the bespectacled accountant who hurts his wrists lifting a gun and, in a particularly comedic turn, the wise harlot who carries a parasol and is the town’s best billiards player.  Slim Pickens would guest star but unfortunately his character is a mute.  I know this is all silly because Peter Sellers has been dead for some time now, but they’re doing amazing things with CGI these days (do they even call it “CGI” anymore?), and there should not be any restrictions on one’s imagination.  Yes, this last point might bring up a sore spot, one of many between us, the accumulation of which is why we don’t talk much anymore.  



Thursday, July 5, 2012


Dear Brandon Lee:

I know that you're dead and can't respond to letters, but I've always felt a connection to you since I learned you died during the production of the film, The Crow.  I was 22 when that happened, in the middle of the best years of my life, when the untimely deaths of people I didn’t know stood in for the real thing, which now I know all too well.

The next summer when the film was released, I saw it and like many people my age then, was blown away by it.  Your performance was spectacular, and the film itself is dark and edgy and the hand of vengeance your raised-from-the-dead character delivers to that savage city’s criminals was most awesome.  It was like being an invincible hero in my own nightmare.  My friends and I would drive around with the windows open blasting the soundtrack to that album.  We were college age and carefree and could do whatever we wanted during the day while regular grownups were working and we stayed up late at night while they were sleeping.    We drove around in a ragged, rusted powder blue Ford Taurus station wagon that sputtered and stalled.  It was the best car ever. It was the last free summer.

That last free summer was going to be many things.  I was going to write a novel.  My friends and I were going to drive across the country and back.  We were going to start our own microbrewery.  We were going to live at the beach.  We were going to throw the biggest, longest party ever.  We were going to do all the things that were in our dreams.  Then you need money.  Then you start interviewing for jobs.  Then you don't stay out as late.  Then you start paying bills.  Then you start having real skin in the game and life isn't about grades and people aren't kind about giving you second chances and I suppose this is why some people start walking around with scowls on their faces and they take jokes seriously.

Brandon, I can't imagine what it was like to be a young movie star who had has life ended by a stupid accident.  I can't imagine what you were thinking when that gun was fired and there was supposed to be a blank and you were supposed to go into actor mode like you'd gotten hit by a bullet but you really did get hit by a bullet and you quickly died and, man, that was that.  One minute you’re fine, the next you’re not.  I remember people claiming conspiracy and the eerie coincidence of your father dying early at age 32 but it was really just a stupid accident caused by carelessness.  It's written in pen. There is no do-over.

Now, the old friends and I are thinking about getting together again for another ride or two.  Sure, that Taurus has long been scrapped and we’d likely be driving around in a minivan, but I’m going to bring The Crow soundtrack and it’s not going to matter.  Of course, nowadays, we always talk but never do.  Such is the way of things now that we’ve become our fathers.  But if we do, we want you to come with us.  There’ll be room for one more.  We're trying to recreate that feeling of being young and invincible and where anything is possible, so don’t worry about being dead.  One of my best friends is dead also and I plan to invite him too so you won’t be alone.



Monday, July 2, 2012

What I Was Thinking: At Long Last

What I was thinking today is coming at you at long last.  Does this mean that I have not started thinking on this day until right now?  No, it’s just that it’s taken some time to get motivated, to reach this point where I open up this document and start typing like this.  Some days are like this.  Some weeks are like this.  Don’t worry, I am still thinking.  This is not something you should concern yourself with.  Whether or not I am to channel this thinking into something with form is an all together different situation.  Sometimes, like Huey Lewis sings, I want a new drug.

Friday, June 29, 2012


When he rode in their spaceship he was given the MVP treatment.  MVP, they called it for him, because he was only 9 and it had more enchantment than VIP because of little league.  They set him up with a tv with flickering cartoons, sugary rainbow colored cereal, and gallons of blue Kool-Aid.  It was maybe a week into summer vacation, that year of cicadas, their shrill dying chirp.  It was also the year of his parents falling apart, the nights of silent rooms, the only comfort the hum of air conditioning units.  He looked through the ship windows but all there was was black, distant specks of starlight.  The aliens onboard were different shapes and sizes and colors.  Some were stout and green.  Others were tall and yellow.  Some looked almost like humans.  Others were more like cartoons, bulbous masses, multi-headed.  None were scary.  They watched him like they were being amused by his presence.  The circus-like noises of the shows filled the cabin.  They didn't speak but had a screen that posted brief responses in English when he asked questions.  Where are you taking me? Out and about.  How long will I be gone?  For a bit.  Are you real? Yes. Do you have popcorn? No.  Do my parents know I'm gone? No.  Do you have a bathroom?  To the right and down the passageway. And, after some more cartoon cacophony and silence, is it my fault, which was met with multiplying ellipses.  So, after a bit, he woke up in bed at home, hazy morning sun through his window, the neighbors having their oak tree cut down at 8:00 A.M.  Downstairs he could hear clanking dishes, his mother's voice, words indistinguishable.  How long was he gone, and did it really happen?  In later years, after mom had been remarried and widowed, and dad again divorced, and he'd bounced back and forth between the two and their strangers, he'd tell his therapist about his time on the spaceship.  She would listen, nodding her head as if she understood and believed, but inevitably, there would be more sessions, more prescriptions, more breaking down of the overarching metaphor, as she called it.  Even as he lost jobs and fumbled through doomed relationships and buried his father and left a child in some different stepparent galaxy, he thought, come back to me, let me go with you, just for a bit.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I Was Thinking: Alien Invasions

What I was thinking was that a good idea for a story is a list of alien invasions.  This comes from reading too much Jim Shepard.  Now, what would the character angle be?  Like, who would be the main character in this?  Sometimes the premise comes first.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Dear A, I'm sorry I didn't realize you were allergic to ostrich.  I mean, seriously, how could I?  How did you?  Anyway, you took the fork of food I offered you, and I felt giddy because the moment felt sensual, your mouth inviting, the world between fingers and tines.  But after you swallowed, it's like life froze.  You put a hand to your throat, gagged for breath.  I thought you were choking, so I grabbed you from behind, pummeled your abdomen with my fist, even as you fought me off.  Then you're on the floor, convulsing, the room filled with gasps, the wait staff rushing to you, and I'm standing there like an idiot.  It wasn't right for me to just hightail it out of there.  And I'll reimburse you for the meal, of course, though I thought we had an agreement to go Dutch.  Anyway, I still question, how could I know, since ostrich is not even the other white meat but, at best, an other other white meat.  I remember going to the zoo when I was a child, my mother telling me an ostrich will steal your watch if you're too close.  My mom—we never got to talk about her.  It might've explained much.  Best, C. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm Not Emilio Estevez 2.0

So I've decided to unearth the blog.  I'm still I'm Not Emilio Estevez.  By the way, does anybody read blogs anymore?  Oh, well, what harm could be done getting back into this thing?