Saturday, July 30, 2011

Birth Story

Russell’s head was visible, he would be making his entry into our world within minutes. Soon Jess had him pushed out and he was laid upon her chest.

He just sort of looked around in awe. His look grew more quizzical. He motioned for me to lean down to him. He began to speak.

“Are you serious? You decided to bring me into the world when things are looking the way they do? The U.S. is about to default on their debt. Congress is spinning and sputtering and has no real answers while we, excuse my French, are skipping towards hell in a handcart. Tuition at the University of Washington just jumped 21 percent—21 percent!—in just one year. And you’re still 18 years away from having to put me through there, how in the world are you going to pull that off? Plus I’m probably going to follow in your regrettable footsteps, the apple doesn’t fall far and all that, and end up with a liberal arts degree, so you’ll probably be a hundred grand into me being a barista or whatever cultural signifier of the bottom of the barrel that will be in effect in two decades.

“As you well know health care costs are only going to rise; I refer you again to our dithering congress. But who am I to crap all over them, they’re just people, same as you and me. What I’m trying to say is that Rome is burning Dad, Rome is burning. What kind of future am I going to have in this remaining husk of a once great nation? Not to mention that I’m only talking about things on a national scale, let’s bring this thing a little closer to home.

“What about you? Don’t give me that ‘Who, me?’ look, you know what I’m talking about. Look, I want to be sensitive, but can I be frank? When you take me home you’re putting me up in a bassinet in your guys’ room. That’s all well and good, I get it, I’m not exactly self-sufficient. But after a few months you’re gonna make me bunk with my older brother. And why is that? Because you’re living in the mother-in-law basement apartment of your in-laws. What’s the plan? Do you think well-paying jobs grow on trees? I know it’s not my job to figure this out or even worry about it, but how are you going to provide for us, and not only let us survive and scrape by, but actually flourish?”

I gathered my thoughts for a moment. He had caught me off guard, and after all I am his father, so I wanted to respond with something sage-like.

“Faith,” I said. 

“Faith?” he echoed in incredulity. “I’m talking practicalities and dollars and cents and that’s what you say?”

“Yeah, faith, that God will work it out.”

“Is that all you’ve got?”

I stood pat. Besides a checking account with an average balance of three digits and two vehicles produced before this century began, yes, that's about all I have to my name. 

“You know, that’s the dumbest, most simple-minded thing I’ve ever heard.” Then he appeared to think better of his roughshod brashness, and he looked thoughtful for a moment. “Well, if it works for you...” And with a flip of the hands, hey, have it your way, live and be well, he left it at that.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Katy Perry and the Relative Power of Glam

A few money quotes from the recent article on Katy Perry in Rolling Stone:

"But no one around her really seems to be able to figure out why she is the way she is. Probably it's just a question of inner drive. Just like her parents, she's proselytizing and preaching a message. It's not a message of fire and brimstone. It's her own message. It's a message of hope, based not only on some of her lyrics, but also on Glam, and the transformative power of Glam. Glam power. It's pretty cool. It gets you heard when nothing else will."

Yeah, but is getting heard good if you've got nothing to say? Well, I guess I shouldn't say that, because she does have plenty to say:

"I want to skin you and wear you like last year's Versace!"

"Anyway, not to get all politically divulging and introspective, but the fact that America doesn't have free health care drives me f****** absolutely crazy, and is so wrong."

"I'm a normal woman with big dreams who shows girls they can be a larger-than-life cartoon."

"I remember coming to L.A. for the first time and meeting Gwen Stefani and how gracious and wonderful she was, and then meeting another favorite artist of mine and what a c*** she was. It ruined my dreams of that person, the c***, and I will always be a fan of the person who was gracious."

Because that's the definition of grace, only meting it out to those who deserve it.

It's easy to be a bully and I don't ever want to just wail on somebody with my blog. I don't like being mean spirited and cutting, I don't like to read it elsewhere (though I can't help myself sometimes). I only post this blog to ask one pointed question:

Look at what we're elevating, is this what we really want?

Ahh. I know it's a lost cause. That's not the way we look at our pop culture. We glance at the veneer, if our head bobs, if we're entertained, then the answer is "Yes, we like that—so what are YOU on about?" Look, Katy Perry and the like are promoting a life of unreality, I don't think it's good to live there or even to aspire to it, so yeah, I'll promote that lost cause to an audience that doesn't want to hear it.

Really, I don't mind.

And yes, for the record, my head does bob to her music—but it's a mournful, self-loathing bob that leaves me feeling empty and feeling cheap.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Anatomy of a Misspent Decade

Almost three months ago I told you that I started a short story and this is what I had:

"I awoke to him standing at the foot of our bed. It was God it was my father it was him who gives me my name."

To make an understatement, the creative process is a strange, slippery thing. I didn't know who the man actually was, and more importantly I didn't know why he was there or what he wanted to say. So I spent some time thinking about it. I asked him who he was, why he was there, and what, exactly, did he want? The answers were not at all forthcoming, but I was getting a...vibe. The more I thought about the cloaked figure the more I realized he wanted to address the central thing that has haunted me for the last ten years of my life: my inability to do what I want to do more than anything, which is to write.

I decided to tell the story of these last ten years to myself. The story involved a lot of denial, blame-shifting, multiple addictions, etc. all in a failed pursuit to reach out and grab a hold of my dreams. Rightly or wrongly I assume that a lot of people are like me, and that they would enjoy reading someone else dwelling on their failures and giant mistakes, and so it is now available for purchase on

You can buy the Kindle version for 99 cents by going here. Don't forget you can still read a Kindle book even if you don't have a Kindle, here are instructions for downloading the Kindle software, for free, onto your computer.

The paperback copy is $6.99 and will be available any day now, and you can click this link to sign up to receive an email when it becomes available.

The first five people* who promise me to write an Amazon review (as long as they promise to be unflinchingly honest) will receive a free paperback copy of the book. It's all of 50 pages, you can manage.

Also sign up and follow me on Twitter as I will be doing a Twitter give away as well.

Cover design by Jessica DesLongchamp

*You are excluded from this giveaway if your last name either rhymes with or actually is "DesLongchamp" because how tacky would it be to have a raving Amazon review by someone with my last name? Very.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Word to My Followers

Can we chat for a sec? Awesome.

So I'm going to do a little "inside We Need the Eggs" talk with you; a State of the Blog address, if you will.

I'm nearing publication on my self-published book, Anatomy of a Misspent Decade, and I'm steeling myself to do some self-promotion and marketing.

I hate self-promotion and marketing. Here's what it is: it isn't that I'm modest and humble and don't want to talk about myself--I just think that no one—except my mom and my wife—wants to hear about it.

But the truth is this: I love to write, it's what I went to school to do, and how great would it be if I could start to do that more and more for a living? And that's where you come in.
I’m averaging 1,000 hits a month over the last 3 months. In the Internet world that is minuscule, but hell, I’m excited. The thing is that I don’t know who you people are. So I'm going to ask a few things of you guys. 

  1. You should click the "Follow Me" button for blogger, and you should start following me on Twitter. If you're not on Twitter you need to be, it's fun!
  2. Feel free to comment more.
  3. Buy my book! I haven't written this book to make a profit--I've written it to get my name out there. So I've priced it at 99 cents for the Kindle, $6.99 for the paperback (which is less than a dollar more than the minimum price at which I could sell it and make absolutely zero). 
  4. I recommend you buy the Kindle version because, c'mon, it's a buck!
  5. This means you will need to buy a Kindle. Or download the Kindle app for your phone, or the most cost effective way possible—downloading the Kindle reader for your computer.
Yes, it's true that I am being embarrassingly specific, but please know that I'm not asking you do anything artificially or out of pity. I'm merely making suggestions for you, you know, just in case you hadn't thought of these things before.  

A word about me asking you to buy my book: This is the only book I will ever ask you so blatantly to buy. This first book was just something I did to finally do something, and I think of it only as getting my name out there as much as possible and giving people the chance to find out if they like hearing what I have to say or not. So yes, I hope that you'll drop the dollar on the book. I hope that, if you like it, you'll recommend it to a friend. I hope that maybe you'll say a word or two in an Amazon review.

But the biggest thing I'll ask you to do is that I would LOVE for you to give me HONEST feedback. Tell me it sucks. I'm dead serious. I'm probably not a good enough writer to make it on my own yet, so tell me where I need to improve. Tell me the parts you liked, tell me the parts you didn't like so much. Tell me it was derivative, unrelatable pathetic prose. All of your comments, the good and the bad, will help to make me a better writer.

Leveling With You

I haven't done a good job of "branding" myself. I'm all over the freaking place. I'm being goofy and sarcastic, I'm talking religion, politics, movies. I write stuff for Christians, but I in no way want to be a specifically "Christian" blog if that can make any sense. I'm sometimes obscure, flighty and uneven, and that's only on a good day. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not asking for an artificial hooray following. I don't exactly know what "kind" of blog my blog is, but I'm just blindly reaching out for the thing that seems right to do as far as my style and approach go. I'll keep going until it starts to work or I think of something better.

Friday, July 1, 2011

David Mamet Reclamation Project

I believe the only reason "Glengarry Glen Ross" languishes in obscurity is because of its name.

I've watched the movie at least 50 times and I only have a vague theory as to why David Mamet may have selected this enigmatic title. But if it were to be punched up, if the title had a real hook to it, why, then it would be a film you could recommend indiscriminately to all of your friends and family. Right now when I tell someone they need to see GGGR I universally receive the blankest stare I've ever seen in my life, and then they change the subject as fast as physics will allow.

But I need help, so far I've only been able to come up with the following dismal titles. Please post a title that is worthy to present to David Mamet as a significant improvement on the original.

My attempts:

"Salesmen in Action"
"Shelly Makes Good"
"Shelly Gets Well"