Happy Belated Valentines Day

February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hello again, internet. I decided to spend Valentine’s Day with my wife, saving all my love for you for this week. I hope it doesn’t reflect poorly on how much love I have for you, my darling world wide web, but I’m actually just stealing this present for you from the fine folks at Common Good Books, my local independent bookstore. Not just a great place for readers, they’re also really supportive of emerging authors—they are always the first place to get their hands on the newest episode of my serial novel, Slash, and Colin (who plays the smart-phone-dummy in the video) recently interviewed me for their blog—so maybe this post is really about how much I love my real-world book store.

In any event, it is funny and literary, so it fits with the blog—plus it provides the perfect proof that the novel is still the most sophisticated and sexiest piece of technology humanity has invented.

I CAN HAS BESTSELLER?

January 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

In case you couldn’t tell from the Chesterton quote on the blog’s masthead, I might as well admit that I’m not the most internet-savvy blogger out there. Most of what happens on this world wide web of ours is old news before I feel like I’ve had time to properly digest and form an opinion about it, so I’ve never really been on trend since I started this blog. As a result, some of my most current and popular posts are long essays about Kerouac and the Marx Brothers.

And while I’m proud to have sold more physical copies of my new book than digital copies, I would like to improve my internet skills over the course of 2014. With that in mind, I’m excited to debut my new official author photo here today:

580633_10201756195005423_270491401_nIf there is one thing, I, as a (prematurely) old person know about the internet, it is that it is ruled by cats and controlled by their cuddly henchmen, kittens. As a result, I’m attaching this pick of me and my little buddy Murray to every blog and website I have in hopes that it generates more buzz than the boring old pick of me looking contemplative with a cup of coffee that I have been using.

So, assuming this fluffy photo has stoked your desire to click links and spend imaginary money, head on over to slashserial.com for a free preview of the first chapter of my novel, then head over to Amazon or Smashwords to download your copy of the first episode for just 99 cents!

Announcing SLASH Episode Three: “Boy/Friend”

January 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m proud to announce that the third installment of Slash, “Boy/Friend”, is now available in all major ebook formats.J-Episode Three Cover In Episode Three, a new slash story finally gives Alex the chance to prevent another murder and convinces her that Perry, the show’s nosy new guest star, is behind the mysterious deaths. Despite her lackluster investigatory skills, Alex has an easy time keeping a close eye on him because this week’s script includes their big make-out scene.

You can find it in any ebook format–Kindle, Nook, ipad, pdf, whatever–at my smashwords page.

Or you can get it for your Kindle from amazon here.

It is also available for your Nook directly from Barnes and Noble’s site.

There is also a handsome physical version, much like the mysteriously minimalist first two episodes, but with a pink inner cover. If you live in the Twin Cities, you’ll be able to find it at Common Good Books in St. Paul or Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis by the middle of the month; you can stay tuned to the facebook group for announcements about when they receive the latest deliveries. Or, if you live elsewhere, you can mail-order it from my Etsy store.

I normally reserve the free previews for http://www.slashserial.com, but since this one is mostly comedy, I thought I’d post it here, too. To get a sense of the series as a whole, you can preview the whole first chapter here and an excerpt from Episode Two here, but all you need to know for this scene is that Alex is painfully shy and trying to foil a potential serial killer without drawing too much attention to herself.

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As soon as she had skimmed to the end, Alex started searching for some way to contact Sylvia Camp, the young woman who played Mel.

Audiences so loved Sylvia’s sassy courage that they’d been demanding a spinoff even before season 3 ended: Momma Mel and Mel’s Many Munchkins were leading title suggestions on the Internet (though Alex had always thought Mel’s Mammaries would best capture the appeal). In the true test of whether a character had seized the nation’s subconscious, kkslash.net had been inundated with slash stories starring Mel over the winter and spring. A few featured her and Stephie making love, but Alex always felt like she was cheating on her fantasy when she read them—and preferred to read about Mel giving it to Lissa, anyways. Despite America’s yearnings, Sylvia hadn’t been content to play Mel for a minute more than she needed to; during the few discussions Alex had managed to sustain with her, Sylvia bragged that she was hoping to use Koop’s Kitchen as a stepping-stone to more serious acting. So even though Alex had heard—during one of Lissa’s jealous tantrums—that PJ had offered Sylvia a recurring role for the fourth season, she’d left the show for new roles as soon as her contract was up.

Since moving on, she’d easily surpassed Alex’s level of fame with a few talk-show appearances, and this summer had been scantily-clad in nearly as many magazines as Lissa (though she tended to be in Maxim air-brushed bikini shoots as opposed to candid tabloid up-skirts). With two B-grade teen comedies on her CV, Lissa was still more famous, but, searching the Internet, Alex realized Sylvia might soon eclipse her as well.

Horror fan communities online were abuzz with news of Bull God: adapted from an acclaimed novel by an enigmatic director and starring Sylvia Camp, the minutest details of production were daily news, including the location where principal filming had begun a week ago. Alex was thrilled to finally have her research provide an answer but, as she’d only hit dead ends so far, was unsure of how to proceed. The studio lot where they were filming was between her apartment and the Koop’s Kitchen studios, but she couldn’t just show up at Sylvia’s trailer: Hey, remember me? The short lady who looks like she’s thirteen and always stares at your breasts? Yeah, thanks, I’m good—just stopped by to warn you: last night I read a seemingly-prophetic piece of fan fiction in which Lissa Blaine and I fucked across the hall from your corpse…

It would be easier if both ends were anonymous, so she decided to call in a bomb threat to the entire studio. While the phone rang, she realized, first, that she didn’t know what to say and, second, that she shouldn’t call from her own phone. As a result, she was thankful when a recording asked her to leave a message or call back during normal business hours. It was still only 4am, so she showered and dressed, then refreshed and refreshed her search results to make sure she wasn’t already too late when she left her apartment at 6.

She called again from a gas-station payphone, and when a man answered—“Thanks for calling DM Studios, this is Chet. How may I help you?”—she realized she still hadn’t thought of what to say. “Hellooooo?”

“Um, yes, sorry,” she tried to speak like a man, from deep in her throat. “I’m calling today to report a bomb threat.” While satisfied with the gravelly affectation disguising her voice, Alex was disappointed her meek manners shone through.

“Oh, no,” Chet said blandly. “Did you actually see the bomb, or is it just suspicious activity?”

“I’ve seen the bomb myself, yes.”

Chet continued, only slightly more concerned, “Because the New York City block in B6 is being used to film a pilot for a new bomb-squad procedural called Tick, Tock, Boom. Were you in B6?”

“No.”

“Jeez, okay. I’ll call security right now. Where were you?”

“I’m not going to say.”

“Sorry?”

“I don’t want you to find it. I hid it.”

“Oh shit: so you aren’t actually ‘reporting’ a bomb threat, you want to make one. You’re calling to threaten with a bomb.”

“Sure, I guess. Yes. Consider yourself threatened.”

Finally, Chet sounded worried: “Why?”

“Um.” Throat getting raw, Alex croaked, “Because of your… culture of promiscuity which you promote through your films and programs… with loose sex and scantily clad women… and men, too, I guess… and gays and…”

“Then fuck you,” Chet interrupted, and Alex hung up.

Merry Christmas: Free ebooks for all!

December 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

With 2013 nearly over, I wanted to take a moment to say thanks for all the interest and support you, fine people of the internet, have shown for my literary humor this past year. The joke-a-long posts have brought a steady stream of readers to the blog, Revolver was good enough to publish one of my short stories to their site, and I’ve released the first two episodes of my serial novel Slash. I’m really excited to share the rest of Slash with you throughout 2014, and am happy to have everyone who downloaded a copy, joined the FB group, or signed up for the email list along for the ride. As a thanks for all the love, I wanted to offer a little Christmas present to anyone interested…

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Last weekend, I took part in a really fun local artists sale at the Carleton Artist Lofts here in St. Paul. In addition hanging out with great painters and crafters, I sold a bunch of copies of Slash. As a sort of salesman’s insurance against rejection, I also had a sign-up sheet for the email list promising a free e-reader copy for whoever signed. People seemed to really respond well to it, so I thought, why not open the offer up to the world at large as a Christmas present!

So, if you want to receive a free digital copy of Episode One, just fill out the boxes below, or email me at kitschenfan@gmail.com, putting your preferred e-reader format in the subject line–anytime between now and January 1st, 2014.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See y’all in Episode Four!

Remind me if you like me

November 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hey all: it has been too long. With my marriage, Red Bird’s recent submission period, and Slash (Episode One is now just 99 cents!!!), I realize I haven’t done much but make excuses on this blog all autumn—and I’ve lately fallen behind even on that. As a result, I’m going to sneak one last post in November to reach my quota of posts about how little I’m posting.

The good news is I’m getting the hang of wedded bliss, have picked out three awesome manuscripts for RB’s 2014 chapbook publishing season, and have even built up a month of lead time on Slash, so I will hopefully be able to get this series of posts on satire I’ve been planning out to you by the new year. I’ve been thinking about it a bunch… just haven’t written anything.

Regardless of how much time I have to use them, the ideas have been coming to me for the blog lately, in part because I think I miss you dear readers. For example, the most recent issue of The New Yorker featured one of the most humorous Shouts and Murmurs in recent memory. Written by Michael Cera, in the voice of the needy, awkward guy he is so good at playing, the piece is a perfect send-up of how awkward and needy text messaging usually is, despite its promises of making us more conveniently and confidently connected. Snorting out loud while reading it, I thought immediately of posting it here, in part because it is so well written and funny, and in part because it reminded me of how starved I was for your cyber-approval. So please, check it out here, and like this post ASAP!

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(I also feel like I still owe Michael Cera for making Superbad, since it is, not only, one of my favorite movies, but also the source of several dates for me. During the summer it came out, the awkward, needy Evan was suddenly a lovable archetype (if not a certified sex-symbol), and I managed to use my own awkwardness to my advantage for the first time in my life. If these few clicks to his work can start to pay off that debt, I’ll be happy.)

What is SLASH and why is it ruining this blog?

May 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

If you’ve lately noticed a drop in the quantity (hopefully not the quality) of output at The Oldest Jokes in the World, I’m sorry to say you’re not imagining things. There’s plenty I want to write about—I’ve been brainstorming for a series of posts about anachronistic funnies drawing on the work of John Gardner, Jonathan Lethem, and Brian K. Vaughn, among others, as well as an academic exploration of the “Deez Nuts” joke—but all I’ve managed in the past month is a jokealong and couple of posts apologizing for how little output I’ve managed. I can blame part of the drop off on moving and planning for a wedding, but in all honestly, I’ve still found plenty of time for writing; I’ve just spent all that time working on Slash.

Slash is a novel I’m going to self-publish serially, and I’ve been feverishly trying to set up www.slashserial.com and a fb page so that I’ll be ready to promote in advance of its September release. If you’re wondering what Slash the novel is all about, I recently put up a synopsis detailing our hero Alexis Bledsoe’s troubled relationship with slash fiction; and if you’re wondering what slash fiction is, I also added a page defining and outlining this oft-misunderstood literary genre.

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In the novel, I’m trying to give a fair and searching exploration of both the positive and negative aspects of slash fiction (and the act of reading fiction in general, I think). On the website, however, I’m going to focus on only the best slash fiction and fan fiction has to offer, so as to better build community and discussion.

As a result, I only think it fair that I offer up the worst slash fiction has to offer on this blog: My Immortal will introduce you to everything that is wrong with slash fiction including awful grammar, sloppy spelling, absurd plot twist, gross sounding Harry Potter fantasies that are supposed to be sexy, and so much more!

As such, it will hopefully keep you laughing while I take a break from The Oldest Jokes in the World. I won’t say we’re going on hiatus because I hope to at least get the two series of posts I was discussing above out by the end of summer, but I just don’t think it is fair of me to promise weekly posts anymore. I’m going to aim optimistically for twice monthly, so check back in a bit for a thoughtful laugh… either at what I’ve written by then or my hubris.

Jokealong: ICE BREAKERS

May 17, 2013 § 2 Comments

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.

Busy with other projects (gentle reminder: like the fb page and follow the website for my forthcoming novel, Slash), it has been over a month since our last jokealong, so I had a little difficulty warming up to even start this one. What better topic to pick then, I thought, than ice breakers?

Really any topic, I discovered, once I started.

People are, apparently, desperate for ice-breakers. In my series on the divide between wit and written jokes, I mentioned, briefly, that written jokes are great for breaking the ice in unfamiliar social situations, and in the months since, searches for “ice breaker jokes” have become the number one term leading people to the site. As an awkward guy myself, I sympathize with this search for an easy-to-memorize sentence that will make you look smooth in any social situation, no matter how sweaty and uncomfortable you are.

But my own personal search for a good ice-breaker has made me realize it is a quixotic (and greedy) quest. When you think about it, what phrase could appeal to all audiences everywhere? And if such a golden incantation did exist, who would be responsible enough to know such a spell without using it for evil?

As a result of their ultimate impossibility, many ice-breakers are just lame jokes. Anything that might appeal to everyone is going to be necessarily broad and soft to the point of near meaninglessness.

In the opposite direction, there are those who just assume that their own personal points of view are the only ones worth having and that anyone who is offended by them aren’t worth knowing. One example I came across are Redditers who claim that cheap cheap-hand-job jokes are their go-to ice-breakers. The goal here isn’t making a connection with a new person, but testing to see if your audience is exactly as crass as you.

(Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a well crafted hand-job joke, just that I know I need to earn the right and familiarity to tell one to you.)

The worst examples—and, sadly, the most desperate searchers of good examples—come from dating websites. On this dating site message board thread for ice-breaking tips, several men suggest lesbian jokes as ice-breakers. Again, the goal doesn’t seem to be to make a connection, but to test if your date is the sort of feminist killjoy who hates lesbian jokes—and is probably a secret lesbian anyways, the spiraling logic goes. I’ve got to assume these guys are so obsessed with lesbians because they think every girl they’ve ever dated is a lesbian: I mean, who else wouldn’t be attracted to such a handsome guy with such a wealth of homophobic humor, right? These aren’t the sort of ice-breakers that open the room to warmth, but that send the teller further and further down a lonely, one-way path.

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That said, there are some decent ones out there, as anyone who listens to the Dinner Party Download on MPR knows. I think the key is knowing a few and gauging the situation for one that fits. As a result, I’m submitting this year’s compilation podcast from that show as our winner. If the people you find yourself with are worth conversing with at all, there’d ought to be something here that will get them to like you.

As for my contribution:

Q: Why did the lonely hipster put ornate studs in his tires before going to the winter pub crawl?

A: They make a great ice-braker.

Ice-breakers are mostly about putting yourself out there to be vulnerable, getting the dialogue going, so I hope that lame attempt will open the floodgates to all of your awesome ice-breakers out there.

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