Gunk v. Good Stuff

I have symptoms which are truly awful, and I will not tell you about them because, well, I have some of the Catholic school girl veneer left. I do. The doctor said: oh yeah, you’ve got that galluping crud thing, nothing to do but ride it out. You know the drill.

And there’s nothing I want to watch on television tonight. I ask you, is that fair?

A few words about The Nine, which I mentioned yesterday. Here’s the setup:

Two brothers go into a bank to rob it. It all goes wrong, and they take hostages. One hostage is released early. Fifty-two hours later the police storm the place. Nine hostages survive.

What we are given:
a brief introduction to the main characters (those who will be hostages);
a few of the people in their lives;
a brief sketch of the two robbers;
the very beginning of the crisis.

Then the story jumps forward to the police rescue, and the hostages coming out. It moves on from there.

What you’ve got here is an interesting approach to plot. Thing of a group of people going into a big box. Fifty two hours later they come out the other side, and everything has changed. They have changed as individuals, their relationships with each other, their world views.

What happened in there?

That’s the tag line, and it’s a great one. Over the course of the season the story will be revealed both forward (and they each cope with the aftermath) and backward (what actually happened).

Lost does something like this, but there’s no mysterious mumbo jumpo in The Nine. No inexplicable polar bears or smoke monsters. It’s all about how humans deal with stress, or fail to deal with it. Which ones rose to the occasion, and which ones faltered. Survivor guilt and anger.

Interesting stuff. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

The downside: ten main characters, five male, five female. Three of the men are good looking and youngish; two are middle aged, one heavy, one just plain odd, as you see here.
Bio Billingsley
Bio McbrideFive women, and not one middle aged or less than gorgeous. Don’t look for a Kathy Bates type, because they couldn’t make room for that. Five good looking women, aged 16-35 was all they could come up with.

I really like the premise of this story and how they’re approaching it, but for dog’s sake. Will somebody please get a clue? If you’re worried about making your advertisers happy, it would seem to me it would make sense to at least make a gesture to women older than forty. We’ve got money, and we know how to spend it.

Very cranky, here. I’m going to go try to sleep.

short short

Rumaging around on my hard drive looking for something I always run into the oddest stuff. Such as this short short story I wrote what, maybe ten years ago, experimenting with form. It’s called “Photo Reduced” and while it hasn’t appeared in print anywhere, it’s still all rights reserved, all wrongs avenged, blah blah blah.

The photo:1 Two little girls astride a stuffed bear in the middle of Lincoln Park Zoo.2 Ice cream rings3 around their mouths; smears of chocolate on matching short sets.4 The bigger one laughs5,6 at the photographer.7,8 The little one, puzzled, stares off in the other direction.9


1. Chicago, 1961. When Lincoln Avenue was the whole world, and animals all lived in cages.

2. Where did this poor bear come from, and where did it go? It smelled of mildew and dust, and the glass eyes were clouded. The upper lip curled over yellow teeth. A back like a board, the fur like splinters.

3. Mondays and the restaurant closed: my father spent his free time feeding us. Ice cream and cotton candy and long paper strips with candy dots in precise rows. At home there was more food waiting: pasta fazul, minestrone, short ribs, fried bread, sausage and peppers, bruised bananas.

4. Imagine my mother at Sears, Montgomery Ward, Goldblatts, sorting through piles of little girl pinks and pale greens, polyester sticky to the touch. Imagine her there at the zoo in a sundress and sandals, cigarette between her fingers, nails painted the same blood red as her mouth. Imagine her someplace else entirely, dim and cool, smelling of beer.

5. See me: the smarter one, the clever one. The one who knew when to laugh.

6. See me: the one who will survive.

7. It is real laughter; I can see that much about my child self. But what was I laughing at? Surely not my pacing father. I see him in a short sleeved shirt and bow tie, his hands crossed behind his back. Surely not.

8. The photographer is not memory and declines to be imagined. His camera: a box that stood on three legs. In 1961, fathers and uncles and sons and strangers held the cameras, wound the film, flashed. Mothers and daughters and sisters learned how to hold their heads up, how to smile, when to laugh.

9. A baby still. Her cheeks round, her fine hair drifting around her face. Scowling, unsure, on the verge of tears. She rocks in place, at odds with the world, already and always.


frenzied writing

The last couple of chapters of a book usually pour out in a frenzy, which is exhausting. Things come together, and they push. The comparison to labor is overdone, but that’s because like all cliches, it’s apt. I’m thinking that I’ll have this book (finally finally) done by the end of the week. (Not that you should highlight or anything, because that would be tempting maluch.)

Today I sent off many books to the winners of the last drawing. Tomorrow I will draw the name of the person who gets the second pile o’ books. Friday I will collapse.

and now for something a little lighter (cough cough)

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a
light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its condition is
improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are
totally unfounded, and the result of delusional “spin” assaults from the fanatic, elitist, liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect and dims its ego. Why do you hate freedom?

Q How many people in Marin County does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Silly! They don’t screw in light bulbs in Marin County — they
screw in hot tubs.

Q. How many Floridians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Don’t know for sure, they’re still counting.

Q: How many economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw
itself in.

Q: How many net.poets does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None, fish are through the of my conciousness,
and edges
I dark.
like the

Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to hold the giraffe and the other to fill the bathtub
with brightly colored machine tools.


These are a few of my favorites, courtesy of the ultimate lightbulb joke collection.