Jokealong: BIRTHDAYS

September 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

To celebrate the recent court ruling giving “Happy Birthday” back to the people, here’s a reblog of a jokealong from a few years ago!

The Oldest Jokes in the World

Since people are continually stumbling onto The Oldest Jokes in the World in search of actual jokes, not just abstract theories about them, every other week we have a joke-along post. I’ll search through the site’s stats for a specific joke people have been searching for, comb the internet for the best existing examples, and try come up with one of my own. And then you all can add your own in the comments, so the next time someone comes searching, they won’t leave disappointed.

Since this week marks the one-year anniversary of The Oldest Jokes in the World, we have a very special Birthday Jokealong! On April 16th, 2012, I posted this blog’s first post; this jokealong is our sixtieth since, so I haven’t quite lived up to my promise of twice-weekly updates, but I have managed to say something at least every Friday. Initially, I wasn’t sure…

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Review of FOREIGNERS (WAEGUK) by Mark Rapacz

August 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Foreigners (Waeguk) by Mark Rapacz is not the sort of book we normally talk about on this blog. While there are parts of it that are funny—in a nervous, laugh at the gallows sort of way—it is mostly as serious as a knife in the gut. But Mark is a writer who I have admired for many years and whose diverse work I always enjoy, so when New Pulp Press offered me a review copy of his latest novel, I jumped at the chance, regardless of how far it was out of The Oldest Jokes in the World normal purview.

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Foreigners (Waeguk) is a gritty crime novel set in South Korea, following the Ben, a young American, as he realizes again and again he’s deeper into the underworld of Korean crime than his naive pride initially let him believe. At the start of the novel, he’s an English teacher by day as the criminal family he works for launders money through a school; by night, he thinks of himself as a prop: just a big Midwestern piece of muscle, threatening because of his size and status as a foreigner. But by the end of the novel, he becomes intimate not just with the reality of his life of crime, but violence on the global scale of empires.

There is plenty of great action in the novel—gruesome gunplay and hard-boiled hand-to-hand combat—but it is intercut with insightful and gorgeous writing. Ben is a great protagonist and great narrator, both sensitive and full of rage, the product of having to fight for himself as an out of the closet teen in a conservative farm town. Ben’s anger, often exacerbated by alcohol, helps drive the plot, but just as often, it fuels a passage of scorching, brutal insight into the injustices of our world: “I was stealing its children, culturally, ceaselessly, daily, so they could grow up and speak impeccable English and get good jobs and Samsung or Hyundai or LG or, better yet, leave the country and go to a pristine American university and maybe come back to continue to build the country their parents fought and died for, the little tip of this little peninsula that they claimed for themselves, had defended for centuries from the Chinese and the Japanese, and when it looked like they were truly fucked, they had these Americans—these GIs—these waeguks who flew in and fought with them and then did not leave.”

Like Ben and the rest of the complex characters in the cast, the novel is fueled in equal measure by the urge to empathize and the urge to destroy. As such, Foreigners (Waeguk) is an unsettling but satisfying read, well worth your time. Get it here. And if you need a laugh after, check out Mark’s hilarious L’Toilettes d’ Alcatraz, a must for any modern coffee table.

Pulp Reading August 2nd

July 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

If you’re in Minnesota at the start of August, you should come help me celebrate the release of two new masterpieces literary pulp: Todd Wardrope’s sci-fi epic Arcadian Gates and Mark Rapacz’s gritty international noir Foreigners (Waeguk). In addition, both myself and the incomparable David Oppegaard will be reading from recently or soon to be published work.

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Given the location, I wish I had some of the fantasy-infused stuff I’ve been working on recently, but it is a ways away from ready, so I will instead be reading from Slash. I’ll also be trying to sell through the last dozen or so sets I have of the serial zine editions of Slash. At just the lowest price ever, just $15 for all seven, you’ll be paying just over two dollars per hand-made, professionally edited, Indie-Reader Approved episode. If you’ve already got Slash, be sure to bring your book money anyways, because all the authors present will be bringing great work to sell and share.

I hope to see you there!

The Pipe Cleaner of Bilge Hob IV

June 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

My new short story, “The Pipe Cleaner of Bilge Hob IV”, is now available as a sci-fi radio drama from Red Shift on the Fancy Pants Gangsters podcasting network.

It’s a story set in the distant future about dropping mile-long pipes into gaseous planets to get high off huffing the layers of their atmospheres. Plus, it’s beautifully produced and acted, so you don’t even need to read. And it’s free! So just click the picture below, press play, and relax. And when you’re done, check out the rest of Red Shift’s shows this season. They’re all great and really diverse.

And if you’re here because you listened to “The Pipe Cleaner” and think you might be interested in checking out some more of my work, you should try Slash. It’s a metafictional erotic thriller / comedic murder mystery / romantic slasher about fan fiction and murders on the set of a TV show. IndieReader named it a Top Book of 2014, and you can get it at Amazon (by clicking here) for real cheap. Or you can click over the www.slashserial.com for information on how to get it for other devices or in physical reality.

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Red Shift

June 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hey guys—sorry it has been a while since I’ve been on here. I am deep into a new project that is spiraling out of control in a good way. It seems like it will be a big fat novel, at the very least, or maybe a trilogy… So it might be a while before it is in any sort of readable shape. Which isn’t to say I won’t have any new work soon. I am sending out a short story right now, and I hope to start a new one, as well as some more humor pieces for AutoAnatta, as soon as things start to feel stagnant in the novel.

What I’m most excited about getting out to you, though, is a sci-fi piece I wrote for the Red Shift Podcast that should be finished later this year. Red Shift is a new show from the Fancy Pants Gangsters podcasting network, featuring pulpy sci-fi and horror stories that harken back to a classic age of radio dramas while bringing a fresh and modern zest to the genre.

Every episode so far has not just been well-written, but well-acted and –produced, so I can’t wait to see what the Pants Commander and his team put together for the episode I wrote. You don’t have to wait for mine, though—why not head over to their site right now (or like them on Facebook) and check out the four great episodes that are already up? There are devastating explorations of morality set in the distant future as well as chilling tales of horror set in our own time. For fans of the metafictional madness of Slash, though, Drew Chial’s “The Narrator” will probably be a great place to start; while it delves deep into theories about the nature of story through some metafictional magic, the great acting and dialogue keep the characters feeling real and important throughout, so the conclusion works as a revelation on many levels.

And if you feel at all inspired after listening to a few, you should whip up a quick sci-fi script of your own, because they have an open call for submissions for one last special episode to cap off this first season. It is due on June 26th, though, so you’d better get typing…

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I really don’t think there is anything more luxurious than having someone tell you a story—and it’s free! So go ahead and get with Redshift on Facebook, their site, and/or on iTunes, so you’ll be all caught up and ready for when “The Pipe Cleaner of Bilge-Hob IV” hits the airwaves later this year.

‘Maybe Even Wanton’ by Jeanne Holtzman

December 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Check out this great review of a chapbook I edited. So proud of Jeanne and the brave, funny, and searching stories in this collection!

Anonymous Book Review

reviewed by Michael Webb

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It can be argued that the domain of the short story begins at Ernest Hemingway’s retort to a bar bet, “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn” and ends at James Joyce’s The Dead. Somewhere between those limits lies the land of flash fiction, a genre which combines the focus and intensity of great poetry while still requiring the narrative arc of a true story, even if, in Hemingway’s case, some of the story is left off stage for the reader to infer.

Jeanne Holtzman’s Maybe Even Wanton is a collection of 15 very short stories, exceptionally crafted gems that can be read inside of an hour, but will stay with you much longer. Holtzman creates tiny worlds, inhabited by the very young, Linda from the first story, The Prize, and the very old, the unnamed narrator of the final story, Watching Stanley Kowalski in…

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How the Work Gets Done

August 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

I tried my best to keep up with the #mywritingprocess blog hop stuff after my turn, but it grew so fast it was hard to digest it all. Thankfully, the incomparable C Lee Tressel, much missed by her friends in Minnesota, collected all the smartest gems into this lovely little post on her blog. Check out the wisdom of damn-near-a-dozen writers, all in one lovely post!

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map of US(credit: GR)

It has been two years since I left Minnesota. Two very fast, fantastically disorienting years.

Sometimes I wonder if I ever properly mourned what I lost when I left. At the time, there were the logistical matters of moving my physical body and possessions to Ohio. There was also the pull of what I was moving toward: a home near beloved family and a new sense of professional purpose. These forces distracted me such that I didn’t have time to dwell on the devastating reality that I was departing the Cities and a deeply meaningful part of my personal history for good.

To borrow the title of a magical album by Explosions in the Sky, all of a sudden I miss everyone.

I miss my friends at a level I can hardly talk about. I miss the people I taught with and the students who gave me a run for my adjunct…

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