Exhibit 1.2.12


* I have a short(er) story in the new issue of StoryQuarterly. It comes from a time when I thought 1,000 word stories were the future. Now I know that the real future is 500 word stories. It was a simpler time, 2009.

* Anyway, my thing is mostly notable for being a one-note joke about having to harvest a cowboy if you want a pair of cowboy boots. Sort of like how I had to kill that elephant to get these stylish tusks you've noticed me wearing. I did not, however, have to kill it with my bare hands. That I did for me. Also, to best Orwell. The pussy.

* Now I've made myself sad thinking about animal violence. I'm against it.

* I'm still reading through the issue--it's fairly massive--but so far my favorite story actually has considerable animal violence (or at least animal death). Bethany Reece's "The Dog Dies" won me over anyway. A collection of different dog deaths, it's terribly sad but funny and touching in all the right ways. I didn't want to like it, but I couldn't help it, not when it includes lines about trying to slap a dog soul. It's hard to explain why that works, but it does. I'm a fan.

* After, in penance, I stared at a picture of Brett's dog soul for an hour:


Exhibit 1.2.11

Basketball Stats

Thesis Defense vs. [I Have No Idea What Their Name Was and They Were Mostly Memorable for Being Incredibly Ethnically Diverse As if They Met While Filming a Public Service Announcement about Tolerance]

.2 meals eaten the day of the game
1 sub for our team
30+ minutes played because of this
30+ times I thought I might die
1000 times I shuffleran down the court like a wounded Shaq
0 times died
1 very self-conscious use of "Infinity" by a teammate
1 alley oop thrown to me (no, really. Sadly, the pass hit the rim)
1 shot made
5 teammates who spontaneously cheered when this happened
Mixed my feelings on making a shot but having it universally acknowledged to be such an accomplishment that it needed to be celebrated as if I'd just learned a very valuable lesson about tolerance

Thesis Defense is 3-0


Exhibit 1.2.10


(Yep, another post on books. If you don't care, you'll probably enjoy this hyper-literal video of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson's "Luckenbach, Texas." I know I did.


Charles Brockden Brown's novel makes two things clear: 1) the gothic is integral to American literature and 2) we should have seen M. Night Shyamalan coming. O, fine, a third thing: voice throwing is the world's deadliest talent.

Why America couldn't have produced compelling social novels is unclear to me, but her earliest books all seem to be obsessed with darkness and horror and the unsettling nature of life on the new continent. Without definitive social classes, nobody seems to know who to trust and so everyone is a rake or a murderer or some deviant ventriloquist. Wieland came out less than 15 years before Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, but they don't feel like they exist in the same world. And, I suppose, they don't.

Austen has her balls and parlors while Brockden Brown's America feels like a free for all. There is still a moral order, just not one that anybody feels comfortable asserting except when it's too late. At first the book even seems progressive. The titular Wieland is obsessed with reason and rationality rather than his father's odd, Puritanical religion. His sister lives alone without comment and serves as the book's narrator. Everyone, basically, feels like a free citizen in a land ruled by liberty rather than class or superstition.

O, then weird things start happening and then it all goes to hell. The brother no longer trusts his wife. The sister, too, is spurned by her suitor for being a hussy. One character believes God is telling him to kill everyone. It's only after these things start happening does the claustrophobia of the early pages seem suffocating. America, in a word, was a little boring.

The Shyamalan twist is that some and possibly all of this turmoil was caused by a passing "biloquist" who helpfully explains how through a series of very reasonable coincidences, he was forced to throw his voice, a power he laments and had sworn not to use (it being too powerful. Something _________ must have realized a long time ago [___________ being where I would put the name of a famous ventriloquist if there were any {O,shit, Jeff Dunham. Well, I'm still not giving him the satisfaction}]). In any case, this wizard stops short of confessing to causing Wieland to murder his family, but it doesn't really matter. The sister flees back to Europe where there's still evil but it's easier to recognize.

So what was wrong with America that this is where our imaginations immediately went? It's tough to say, though there seems to be some reaction not only to the wilderness surrounding the colonies but to the breakdown of social order caused by democracy. This breakdown, which was hardly as severe as it must have seemed, is a little ridiculous to a modern reader--as is the one moment of spontaneous combustion--but the young country seems to have experienced a lot of terror in the space between reason and freewill. O, we might be able to reason our way into explanation (it's usually ventriloquism) but that doesn't mean some of us won't fall back on superstition and violence and how will we know who those people are until they're approaching us with axes?


Exhibit 1.2.9

Basketball Stats

Thesis Defense (Us) vs. Some Law Students

14 minutes
0 shots missed
0 shots attempted
∞ claps
8 attempts to give myself the nickname "Infinity"
1 rebound
1 steal
1 assist
4 times asked if everyone wouldn't just rather play halfcourt
18 unfair jokes about the other team's LSAT scores
18 number of those jokes made safely from the bench
0 minutes of practice or cardio work before next game
2 beers immediately after the game
6 times got confused which way we were going but it didn't matter since I didn't have the ball and no one was paying attention to me so it was totally cool

Thesis Defense is 2-0


Exhibit 1.2.8

The Right Bar

Here's how you know if you've found it:

1) Do they have advertisements over the urinals?

If yes, good.

If no, you're at a Denny's.

If you don't know, you're a girl.

2) Do medical researchers feel like these advertisements would be a good place to find crystal meth addicts interested in treatment?

If yes, good.

If no, you might still be at a Denny's because that's where the addicts with no interest in treatment hang out.

If you don't know, don't look into it too hard because I want those gift certificates.

3) Are the advertisements a little wordier than one might expect given that they are intended to reach urinating crystal meth addicts?

If yes, good. You've found a bar you can trust to look out for your health.

If no, those colorful breakfast photos on the Denny's menu offer their own kind of treatment.

If you're not sure, seriously, do you think those gift certificates are to Yankee Candle?


Exhibit 1.2.7


You know that week everyone has where they have to read Anna Karenina, the Ramayana, the Aeneid, Wieland, Sula, and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym? Of course you don't. Nobody else has that week. I have that week. It's now. Don't bother me. Here are things:

* The Cupboard continues to hold a contest. Tell your friends to submit here.

* Speaking of The Cupboard, Dave and I are no longer alone. emily danforth has come on board as a co-editor. She cries when people don't submit to our contest.

* Two of my Houston friends have new online journals. Be sure to submit to, eventually read, and generally appreciate Owl Eye Review and Little Grid. Hooray for doing things.

* You know what you shouldn't read? The Aeneid. Nothing against it, just don't.

* O, there's a new issue of elimae, and I'm in it here. This person liked my piece and for that I'm grateful. Otherwise it's only notable for being part of my whole Sire Lines of America thing, a project I showed the logo for way back when and then put away for a long time. It's back. Look for more online. I'm really into online all of a sudden, mostly because I wish I could add more links to this bullet.


Exhibit 1.2.6

I Read This

I Should Get This

Well, okay, probably not a gold medal from the 2006 Winter Olympics, but I feel like I deserve something. I know reading the book is its own reward, but mostly I'm talking about having hauled it to and around Washington D.C. It's heavy, in other words. And I don't mean emotionally, I mean it weighs almost as much as my laptop. No, that's not exactly as memorable as winning the luge, but it's not so far off either. I'd settle for a bronze from Lillehammer.

As for the book, what can I say that hasn't been said. It's great. I prefer the small perfection of Jane Austen--whose work the book greatly resembles through the first two sections--but if you have ever wished she occasionally left the sitting room and wrote epic novels about a bunch of Russians, here's your book. After those early sections, it's as much social commentary as it a social novel but only occasionally does it feel didactic (sadly, one of those places is the ending but if you've made it that far, I imagine you've already given yourself over to it). Tolstoy obviously believes something about peasants and Christianity and hypocrisy and honor, but it's shocking how beside the point all of that is to understanding the novel. Mostly, it's hard not to read these portions of the novel without being all too aware of the wave that's coming through history to take all of these people out. Every time Levin started going on about not educating workers, I screamed, "Look out, they're coming to kill your children!" at the book.

(By the way, this completely ruined how smart and sensitive I was supposed to look while performatively reading it at coffee shops).

Around all that philosophy though is a really remarkable portrayal of humanity. There's no overstating it: I can't think of another book that has so accurately portrayed the human soul. All the contradictions and self-betrayals and doubt and relief--it's what allows a book like this to transcend its philosophy and its timeliness and give reason to the epic social novel. Yeah, it's never going to be my favorite kind of novel, but I can certainly understand the appeal of trying to signpost a moment with a monument big enough to be seen through history.


Exhibit 1.2.5

On Haircuts

(This is me gearing up to try to write some nonfiction someday. Well, not really. I just don't know what else to post about and this is what's been on my mind for the last few months. This and thoughts on the NFL draft. Those I'll keep to myself lest the Bengals find out about them).

I hate getting my hair cut. You might have noticed. This might be why you hate me. There are plenty of reasons and this is as good as any other. And you probably like getting your haircut. That's fine. You're wrong.

And I think I don't like haircuts because I wait so long to get one that it turns into a frightening reimagining of my head. There's something really embarrassing about walking out of a salon looking like a different person. It feels showy. I'd gone in enjoying my slow tide of hair waves and it was only when they led to a great embarrassment than the haircut itself that I had to break down. Every time I leave the salon thinking that, this time, I'll be back in a month and it won't be a big deal. Then somehow we'll have come around to the same season, and I won't think anything is wrong with maybe having to wear a headband while playing basketball.

I wasn't always like this. I loved the guy who cut my hair in Lincoln (Clint!) but that's because I knew him and could talk music in the chair. In Houston, though, I've completely fallen apart. I need to do something about this. I'm not above getting married just so somebody is there to remind me to schedule an appointment. I'll do it. You watch me.

Actually, just watch my head and I'll watch yours. It will be the opposite of hate and I don't care if the Bengals find out.


Exhibit 1.2.4


I took exactly two pictures during the 5 days I was in D.C., one in my first hour there, one in my last.

Picture one:

This was on the Metro map when I arrived, proving once again that people from Texas are jerks everywhere. Not pictured: me writing it. I don't know how this state got to me, but it probably involved breakfast tacos.

Picture two:

This was my suitcase on the way home which was 70% Cupboards, 20% Anna Karenina, and 10% clothes, proving once again that I'm awesome at packing everywhere. Not pictured: me wearing 5 shirts and all my socks.


Exhibit 1.2.3

Letter to an American Farmer: Shut Up

I can't say I ever had to read much colonial history in the past, but I've had to delve into a bit of it while studying the American Gothic. I've realized this: colonial Americans are the worst people to have ever existed at any time in the history (and presumably in the future) of this planet.

Here's what's wrong with them:

* They had names like Cotton and Prudence.

* Their definition of virtue seems to be basically don't act too smart or be poor or be Indian or die suddenly. If you do any of those things, you're a jerk.

* They believed moles and warts were for suckling the devil.

(This brings me to my theory that what happened to Enrique Iglesias's face was that he accidentally danced into a wormhole that took him back in time to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the only way to avoid a good drowning was to remove his mole and call himself Prudence. It's a new theory).

* Whale oil doesn't make sense. You just boil whale and it turns into whale oil? Do all parts of whale produce oil equally? What do you even use it for in a pre-mechanical time? It's just weird, like if you boiled Ben Roethlisberger you'd get a big barrel of quarterback oil women would dab on their necks. Well, probably not women. Maybe you could trade it for some sleazy molasses though.

* And I think this is the heart of it: they seemed really bored. It's not exactly shocking when you read about all the housewives having been on opium because the alternative seemed to be to hang around the meeting house pondering where exactly your neighbors were hiding their devil teat.