Nut Meat for your Ear Hole

April 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

That’s right, y’all. It is once again time for the Cracked Walnut Reading Festival to take over the Twin Cities. After hosting writers from around the world for AWP in April, it will be great to refocus on our own literary scene, as Satish Jayaraj and his crew put on 29 themed readings throughout May and into June, featuring over a hundred local writers, all at unique locations around Minnesota. You can check out the full schedule of events here to pick and choose your whatever fits your interest, schedule, and home area.


That said, I obviously feel that the one reading you absolutely shouldn’t miss is number 3: Divinity and Humor, at the Richfield Community Center (7000 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55423) at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, May 5th. Featuring myself, Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Catherine Dehdashti, Jeanne Lutz, Ron Palmer, Amy Salloway, and James Bohem, it should deliver the thoughtful yuk-em-ups that readers of this blog are by now familiar with.

But why not check out number 7, For the Game, as well. At the East Lake Craft Brewery (South East corner of the Midtown Global Market) on Monday May 11th, it will feature Andrew Blissenbach of MANDREW’S BLISSENBLOG and David Stein of AutoAnatta, both great friends of The Oldest Jokes of the World. Furthermore, the great writers Kate Shuknecht and Jordan Wiklund, will also be reading.

And don’t forget about number 15, Fractured Fairy Tales, at The Lift Garage on Thursday, May 21st. My lovely wife, Jenny Mcdougal, will be reading, along with the very awesome Lewis Mundt and Thomas Rohde

But really, any event is worth checking out. It is a great way to connect with the vibrant writing community in the Twin Cities, and the perfect way to meet Satish so you can read in next year’s festival yourself!


Looking For a Healthy Bread With Which to Symbolize the Debasement That Will Inevitably Result From Your Spiritual Divorce From the God of Israel?

March 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s that time again: another fresh edition of Autoanatta just went up at There’s new poems and philosophy from the writers you’ve come to know and love, as well as some fresh voices. Plus, there’s my latest column of literaryish humor.

This month, I poke a little fun at the Food for Life corporation for using a rather selective reading of the Bible to promote their popular line of Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted breads. I’m know that the subsection of readers who are into the natural foods industry and biblical studies is probably small, but I have to believe there are some of you out there who, like me, live in both worlds. What the hell else are you going to do after studying comparative religion besides work in a grocery store? And even if you aren’t up on the books of the prophets, you might still get a kick out of it; there are jokes about baking bread over poop-fires, which is about as low a common denominator as you can get. So click old ‘Zeke below to read the piece, and then click around to see what else Autoanatta has to offer this month.


The Writer’s Life

February 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

If you’ve ever dreamt of living the fast-paced life of a self-published author, you should join me at Hamline University’s Writer’s Life Lecture Series, where you to can learn how to go into debt and then pester your friends, family, and the internet at large into helping you break even!


In all seriousness, it will be a great event with lots to learn for authors of all levels. I’ll be covering the self-published angle, but a traditionally published author will be there, as well—along with a professional book marketer and web designer. Here’s a full description:


SATURDAY, MARCH 14. 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Part I: Social Media Demystified
Have you been wondering about Facebook? Does Twitter leave you cold? Do you wonder where you would find the time for social media? Don’t miss out on this exploding avenue for connecting with your fans. This session will help writers, author sand others sort through social media options. We will discuss the most popular social media platforms, what they are best used for, and what kind of time it takes. You will get tips, tricks and ideas for content and interaction to make your social media presence a conversation with your fans. It’s all about building relationships, and it doesn’t have to bbe hard. Note: This is not a tech session; you do not need to have any social media profiles set up and we will not be doing that during this time. Instructor:Linda White, BookMania!

Part II: Building a Successful Web Presence:Panel Presentation
Evan Kingston (MFA ’11) will discuss what worked and what didn’t while promoting his seven-part self-published serial novel, including how to sell your work online without annoying your friends, and maybe even finding an audience outside of them. Addie Zierman (MFA ’11) will talk about her journey in publishing her thesis-turned-memoir, When We Were on Fire, including the need for an author to cultivate an internet presence and how that realization turned into her successful blog, “How to Talk Evangelical.” Christine Rousu (CWP staff/freelance web designer) will highlight the options for creating author sites, from fast and cheap DIY to fully designed and paid-for, including what to look for and what to look out for when building/hiring for an author site.

While it is a real honor to be invited back to my alma mater to speak, I’m equally excited by the chance to learn from the other presenters. It should be a really great event, so if you are in the Minnesota area, you should definitely attend. Plus, if you are thinking about an MFA, it is a great chance to sample one of the best programs in the country! Registration is cheaper before March 6th, so click on over here ASAP.

There’s Nothing More Flattering Than Seeing Your Name Spelled Out In Bacon

February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

I recently hooked back up with my old pals Josh Wodarz and Robert Algeo at their new podcast, the impeccably named The Kingston Legacy. You may remember me co-hosting the Film Strip Heroes podcast with them last year. Since I retired from podcasting to focus on a new big writing project for 2015,  Josh and Robert relaunched with a looser format that allows them to discuss whatever they want, whenever they want—as opposed to the old format, which required building fragile bridges of tangents, precariously linking some Marvel Studios Press Release to whatever Weird Al was up to that week.

They also want to start bringing in guests every week, so I was happy to be the test subject in their latest episode. For the interview, we talked about the experience of writing and self-publishing Slash, The Oldest Jokes in the World‘s new partnership with Autoannata, as well as my plans for future projects. Then we slid pleasantly back into our old habit of bullshitting about the latest comic book related news: Marvel and DC’s big shake-up plan’s, as well as Spider-Man’s release into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Josh and Robert also like to talk tech, so I brought an article about archiving the internet I found in print media. After a good laugh about what a backward boob I am, we talked a bit about how this added element of nostalgia has made me excited about the internet in a way I haven’t been for sometime.

I am incredibly nostalgic by nature, so it was really fun going back to Josh’s and recording again. Even just getting the links together for this post, I was briefly enraptured clicking through the links for our old podcasts. I’m already looking forward to looking back on this episode if they ever invite me back again in the future.

Newest Home for The Oldest Jokes

February 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

I’m excited to announce thatthe-oldest-joke-in-the-world-cover-pic-254x300 The Oldest Jokes in the World is starting a new partnership with AutoAnatta, the freshest web zine on the net. Featuring work of diverse sorts from daring young writers, the first full issue went up a few days ago, and it features a piece of mine imagining what the reading-group discussion questions might be like in the back of a copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Cormac’s McCarthy’s The Road, published post-apocalypse.

Under the The Odest Jokes in the World banner, I’ll be contributing a new humor piece every month, so I hope it means I’ll be posting more here than I have been recently as well. They are also looking for more contributors, so you should definitely click the banner below to check it out. You can read my piece, along with the other great poems and essays included in this edition, then you can find out how to submit something of your own to the next.





January 3, 2015 § 5 Comments

I’ve been wrangling Tofurkies at my day job and spending my nights with family, so I haven’t had much of a chance to blog, tweet, FB, or whatever during this holiday. But now that we’re on the other side, I’m taking a look back over the last year and looking forward to the next.

In best-of-2014-220x130short, 2014 was great (There is, for sure, some terribly long post grumbling inside of me about the state of the world and the publishing industry and literature’s relation to capitalism and the drought of great rap albums and how I sometimes remember what it was like to talk to a person on a landline, where you could actually hear what they were saying instead of just making garbled uhuhs and deciding to iron it all out in texts later… but for now, great sums it all up good enough). I finished publishing the concluding episodes of Slash, along with a collected edition of all seven episodes. Even better was all the love and support Slash got, not the least of which was the great surprise of being named to IndieReader’s Top Books of 2014.

For those of you that don’t know, IndieReader is the first name in reviews for self-published books (at least according to me and Publisher’s Weekly). So it was a great thrill to get a five-star review from them for the first three episodes of Slash, and I was honored to make it onto their year-end list, especially given all the other great indie sharing the list. I would like to point out, though, that Slash looks to be the only hand-made book on the list—even more indie than indie, I guess!

Looking forward into 2015, Slash has already received a bit more love from IndieReader in the new year: Alex’s doomed attempts at quitting Slash made it on to their list of books with broken resolutions! So if you liked reading about Alex’s backsliding or are just looking for good ways to quit your New Years Resolutions, be sure to check out the other great indie books they have listed.

On a related note, I’m making a few changes in my internet/publishing/public life in the new year, mostly to sink as deeply as possible into the project that will be my follow up to Slash. First, I’m sad to say that I am retiring from podcasting after one last episode with Film Strip Heroes due out soon. Second, I am going to retire my twitter, as feel like I will never figure it out. Third, I am going to switch most of my online activity, including posts about what I’m up to in the literary world at large, back to this blog from the Slash site.

To reward you for being ahead of the program and being here now, here’s a chance to influence my next project. This poll is, of course, unofficial and not binding in the least, but I will say that I am interested in writing what people want to read. So, should my next project be:

A) An epistolary thriller about chain letters

B) A fantastical/theological take on the rap game

C) A romantic comedy set in an early Pauline church

D) Slash Two


The Busy Writer

October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

What’s up, internet? How you living?

I know I promised that I’d be back to regular posts on here once I finished the final episode of Slash, but I’ve somehow managed to keep myself busy damn near every day since. I hope you’ll at least count it as progress that I’ve given up on the rounds of promise and apology posts that dominated the blog for a while and will instead just tell you what I’m up to whenever I can—with a sprinkling of essays about literary humor added in whenever I’ve got something to say and the time to say it.


My wife took this photo and labeled it “Portrait of the Writer”; I commented: more like “Portrait of the Promotional Emailer” because I knew what I was actually doing; which my wife read as “Portrait of the Emotional Emailer” because she knows my heart.

After working on Slash for the past two years (with nothing but revisions, edits, and layouts for the past year), I was excited to jump into a new project, but what I thought would be a fun and fast revision of a short-story I wrote as an undergrad is ballooning into a novella (at least I hope it stops at a novella). I’ve also read through fifty-some chapbook manuscripts for Red Bird’s 2014 submission period and have chosen three I am very excited to work with and publish in 2015. To top it all off, I’ve been reading as much as I can about Paul the Apostle, as I think the next novel I write is going to be a romantic comedy set in one of his early churches.

And that’s just my writing life. With my first garden winding down after a pretty fruitful year, I’ve been doing lots of pickling and now I have to extirpate it (Pauline vocab!) for the winter. I’ve also been podcasting about comic book adaptations and running a double D&D campaign (that’s four D’s, dudes, if you do the math).

All this is to say that if you want to connect, you might be  best served by looking for me in the real world. I’ve actually gaffed a few obligations lately because they came at me through FB and Twitter and a I feel like I just can’t keep track of it all anymore. The good news is you’ll have a chance to see me in person—reach out and touch me, even—if you are so inclined in just a couple of weeks.

As part of the 2015 St. Paul Almanac Reading Festival, I will be reading at Claddagh Coffee at 1pm on Saturday, November 1st. You can get all the details (as well as a list of all the readings in the festival) at I’ve taken part in many Cracked Walnut events over the years and attended even more, and they are always fun—a great mix of readers of every style and genre from all sorts of different points in their writing careers. I’m especially excited for this reading because I get to share the stage with my wife, the poet Jenny McDougal. But that means there will be one less person in the audience, so it would be really great if you wanted to show up. I’d love to see you.

If you’re busy or somewhere other than St. Paul, you’ll just have to wait until I update here again, hopefully with a post about self-publishing I am working on. In the meantime, I will leave you with this great Nigerian joke about being busy (taken from

A young doctor had just opened office and felt really excited. His secretary told him a man was here to see him. The young doctor told her to send him in.

Pretending to be a busy doctor, he picked up the phone just as the man came in. “Yes, that’s right. The fee is $200. Yes, I’ll expect you ten past two. Alright. No later. I’m a very busy man.”

He hung up and turned to the man waiting. “May I help you?”

“No,” said the man, “I just came in to install the phone.”

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