Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An Inconvenient Idiom

Priscilla Charles owns a cherry farm outside of Washington D.C. Her small, all-natural operation is being threatened by Big Business dairy farms. And if those dairy farms are renowned for anything, it’s for their inclination to pollute. Ms. Charles lobbied a small-farm initiative to the central government. No one listened. She motivated other small farmers to join her in loud protests. She wrote a book. She went on the radio. Finally, she got the government involved but only on a local level. “We need to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. We need to become energy independent.” She would proclaim high standards for environmental change. Still, no one listened, until after Al Gore's documentary won an Oscar. It followed, one evening that Priscilla Charles was featured on a local television station on a show called Sixteen Minutes. Ms. Charles presented a fascinating lecture on “A Small Farmer’s Solution to the Energy Crisis.” Those in the studio who witnessed it said that Ms. Charles’ speech could blow Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth out of the nitrate-overloaded water. Unfortunately, during the airing of Sixteen Minutes, when Priscilla Charles gave her stellar and convincing presentation, the show was interrupted by a national broadcast of the President reporting on dire international absurdities from his Safe Seat in the Oval Office.

So, this year, when Spring Weather hits his heels to the cement and takes off running to his girl, Summer, don’t be surprised if you see fewer cherries on top of children’s ice cream treats. It’s not because Summer isn’t willing to put out; it’s because the independent cherry farms are being wiped out by the overrated delusion that "bigger is better," which, by the way, as it turns out is one of the most environmentally destructive American idioms in our langauge and it should be banned in the same way that the "N word" has been banned in The City.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Coming this April...

This April will be an exciting one for The Scribble Bitch book club. All five of its members will attend the third annual PEN World Voices Literature Festival.

In case you haven't heard, and there is no reason you should not have heard of the Scribble Bitch Book Club; it's popularity is second only to that one hosted by that woman with the talk show...what's her name?...oh, yeah: Oprah. The Scribble Bitch book club is an exclusive group of people who share a peculiar talent: they can write, read, and bitch simultaneously.

Members include the following playful beings:

Rebecca Jane
Riva Djinn
Sheela Swift
Bei Qi “Precious Queer” Chang

And the Scribble Bitch book club is proud to invite its first and only male member. He describes himself as a ravenous reader, rogue writer, and a renegade bitch; thus, he qualifies to join the club. His name is Pablo Delgado. He writes and designs erotic graphic novels that have been rejected by every publishing house from here to Timbuktu.

You’ll hear more about Pablo and Timbuktu later, but for today, click over to PEN’s website to see what plans they have for the April Festival. Here’s a quote from PEN:

“This April, PEN will host an exhilarating range of international writers along with some of the best-known U.S. authors. Programs touching on the Festival’s theme, Home & Away, will include conversations and discussions on the effects and implications of today’s migrations, changing notions of nation and identity, the literatures of travel and exile, and the essential characteristics of home.”

Here’s to literature in translation! Cheers! Here's to Home & Away! Cheers! Cheers!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flash Drama

Paul Silvers; 31 years old & deformed
Pablo Delgado; 31 years old & dangerously handsome

The two men stand in the center of a shabby studio apartment. One barred window with sunlight pouring in onto Paul's deformity.

PAUL: Drop it.

PABLO: Never.

PAUL: Drop it, or I’ll tell the lawyer you’re sleeping with his wife.

PABLO: He already knows it!

PAUL: Does he know you’ve also seduced his daughter?

PABLO: And his cleaning lady and his shoeshine boy!

PAUL: You agreed to drop it. You promised.

PABLO: That was before I knew the truth about you, before Alice told me that you’re a…

PAUL: She lied. She always lies. I’m not a cop.

PABLO: She didn’t say you were a cop. She said you were a prosecutor. Narcotics Unit.

PAUL: C’mon Pablo. You can’t believe that. Why would I be trying to get you to drop acid with me if I worked for The Feds.

PABLO: Because that’s the way The Feds get people to talk. They drug ‘em. I have nothing to say to you, Sir. Get out of my house.

PAUL: Pablo, it’s me. You’re telling me you don’t even recognize me. It’s Paul Silvers, your old college roommate from Northern Illinois University. I served in Iraq. This accident? My face was blown off in one of those damned suicide attacks, and the surgeon gave me this botched job. Fuckers. My wife left me. All I’ve got now are the hallucinogens. Drop it with me.

PABLO: Paul Silvers…? But in college you organized the Students Against National Government. You called yourself a Neo-Tribalist back then. You attended your classes in the nude. What the fuck happened to you? No, you’re not the Paul Silvers I knew in college. That guy never would have served in a war that was a lost cause to begin with!

Paul drops his pants to show Pablo proof of his identity. An unusual birthmark.

Pablo does “drop it;” he drops his jaw, that is.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lunch with Lady Leisure

She is ravishing. Her name is Clowdia Neuvogue. She hails from baroque Bohemia. She has survived from way back then and on into the modern ages because she consumes the secret elixir.

Clowdia Neuvogue lives on Manhattan’s Upper Wild Side. She makes tomato soup that you could just die for, regardless if you are God or Godzilla. Whoever you are, Lady Clowdia Neuvogue, the Divine Giver of Leisure invites You to her table (yea, You! dear Reader).

Accompanying today's blog post are two photographs: one reveals what Tomat d’Immortalite looks like before it is consumed; the other photo reveals what Tomat d’Immortalite looks like after it is consumed.

Clowdia Neuvogue speaks ever tongue, every dialect, every language ever spoken by humans and animals on this earth. But she only knows how to say one sentence; in every variation, she can only say this: “Welcome to my table!”

If you haven’t met her yet, you really must. Oh, darling; You must!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Epistolary Flash

Dear Nuala,

Your last letter sent me into a frenzied desire for revenge. I agree to do as you instruct.

I’ve dropped the petals from the dying blood roses into my foam bath. I lit the temptation candle and repeated the incantation you taught me. The gris-gris dust has been sprinkled under his pillow and in his trousers. It was hard enough for me to get myself into his apartment to spread the dust in these intimate places; there’s no way I’ll manage the dash of gris-gris in his bourbon, unless I pull some impossible stunt like make myself invisible. The liquor cabinet was locked, so I tried to use the expert lock-picking skills I learned in that Fine Arts program. But I heard his wife coming home, and I had to make a hasty exit out the window and down the fire escape.

Regardless of my failure to spike his drink, I hope your methods work as you have promised. I want the man responsible for my unjustifiable dismissal to get what he deserves. And I’ll owe it all to you, the Hoodoo Queen. I’ll send the two grand I owe you when I see the results. At that time you will receive payment through my messenger, Lord Fatface. You’ll find the money I owe you under his tongue.

‘Til then, keep your crystals hot and your agenda free and easy.

With respect,

The Nymph

Monday, March 19, 2007

Live and Die in Bed-Stuy

On Saturday night, Wren threw a birthday party for her girlfriend Bianca at their digs in the formerly-notorious-now-on-the-rise-hip-gentrifying neighborhood of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. The theme of the birthday party was Flashy Clothing. Guests were encouraged to dress in their best. Prizes would be bestowed on the most impressive outfits.

Simona belongs to Wren’s Park Slope book group. She was invited to the party. And Simona invited Alissa because Alissa was always thrilled to meet new people.

Simona wore a tailored suit and wide-collared disco blouse that made her look like the Chief Executive Officer of Funk. Alissa wore a Betsy Johnson dress made of snowflake lace with matching, white fingerless gloves. They both brought a dessert.

They followed the Mapquest directions to get them from Simona’s place in Park Slope to Wren’s place in Bed-Stuy. They arrived at 5551 Willoughby Street at around 8 pm. It didn’t take long to find parking, but it was a little challenging to parallel park the Camry on a dirty snow embankment that must have been about a foot high.

“Do you think we’ll be able to get out?” Simona said.

“I guess we’ll find out after dessert and a glass of wine.” Alissa shrugged.

They left the party at one am. The temperature had dropped a degree or two. After spinning the wheels in vain, Simona was unable to get the car out from the parking spot. Both women got out of the car. They tried to break snow away from the front and back tires with a window scraper. Alissa eventually found a snow shovel abandoned on top of a pile of garbage. But this snow shovel proved of little use for breaking up the snow under the car. They kept busy with the ineffective tools. They’d be here all night.

Then a man with wild eyes and missing teeth approached them. “I got a shovel!” He cheered. He held up a classic iron farm shovel that looked like it had experience digging mass graves in the Iraqi countryside. He was wearing a beat-up, red leather top coat that had Yusef Komunyakaa verses embroidered all over its long tails. The rugged man promised, “I’ll get you out of here!” He scooped up a monster’s mass of snow, put all his strength into his work, and tossed the mass over his shoulder so that it might have flown all the way to Park Slope, or even Manhattan for all the women knew.

While the man worked, Alissa slipped into the car to warm her frost-bitten toes. She was wearing her Italian ankle boots. While the boots may have had mini firearms for heels, they were certainly not ideal barriers to the freezing wind blow. Simona remained outside with the helpful man. His name was Louis. His mom died three weeks ago; he had only recently cleaned up and gotten himself off the streets. Now he was shoveling snow to make some money. He prayed God for more snowfall.

Alissa sat in the passenger seat of the car, the heat blasting on her feet. She got crisp bills out of her wallet to give to Louis. While she watched Simona chat with the shoveling man, Alissa remembered meeting another man who lived in this neighborhood all his life, a man who sat down next to her on a bench in the park at Borough Hall three Springs ago. He had just started talking to Alissa for no other reason than she looked lovely, queer, and alone. This stranger told Alissa that his family was from Barbados. Once, he went to visit Barbados; he described the beach like so: “I could see the hand of God holding all the water back. It’s the grace of God,” he said, “that is keeping that water from drowning us all.” He added, “I had to make that pilgrimage to Barbados because I don’t want to live and die in Bed-Stuy. No, I don’t want to live and die in Bed-Stuy.” He said it with a jazzed attitude, and the words sounded, to Alissa, like a song.

When the car was finally out of the snow embankment, they paid Louis who said, “God bless you beautiful ladies. Now I’m gonna put all the snow back! Ha ha!”

Simona was driving Alissa back to the L train that would bring her back into Manhattan. She told Simona the story of the man who didn’t want to live and die in Bed-Stuy and went elsewhere to seek God’s grace.

“But didn’t that guy with the shovel remind you of God?” Alissa asked Simona.

This question surprised Simona because she knew Alissa was not religious or pious. Alissa prided herself on not prescribing to any dogmas, doctrines, or religions. Hell, Alissa was so secular that she thought a crucifix was a backscratcher. Alissa was well-known for her civil disobedience; she liked to boast that she did not “support our troops.” No, she supported people who enlisted and then had the balls to desert the U.S. armed forces. Alissa spent half her days calling up the Fort Knox Desertion Center to check in with the latest stats on service men and women who she thought were choosing real freedom by deserting. Yes. Alissa had some odd political leanings, but Simona didn’t know she cultivated any kind of relationship with God. Simona considered herself a feminist, anti-war activist, and agnostic. Now Simona was worrying that Alissa’s newly-revealed, quaint spirituality might put a wedge between their relationship. Either that, or else Simona was feeling annoyed because their Flashy Clothes did not win any door prizes.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Female Weightlifter's Erotic Nightmare

Stella Carpenter lifts 350-pound barbells with strength reminiscent of the Incredible Hulk lifting a 150 billion ton mountain range. After breaking the state record, Stella is ready to move on to the national competition. She has been training hard and is eager to prove herself. The night before a big competition like this, she usually gets a little nervous; so, her mother rubs warmed almond oil over Stella’s muscles until the girl drifts off to sleep. Tonight, however, her mother can’t find the bottle of almond oil; she’s looked everywhere. Really, she forgot to buy a new bottle because while last at the market, she’d been distracted thinking about the date she planned with someone she’d met on Matches.com. At last, Stella’s mother was able to scare up some Habanero Exotica Oil that she had received as a gift from a previous date she’d had with a South American she’d met on Matches.com. That date hadn’t gone over too well, but as for the Habanero Exotica Oil, Stella’s mother figured “This will do.”

Indeed, Stella fell sound asleep during the ritual rub. Deep in the night, she had a weird dream about Fidel Castro taking a long stroll with Gabriel Garcia Márquez. The two men talked of all things absurd and surreal; they talked of what it's like to be 80-years-old; they talked of male secrets while Stella overheard it all in her dream. All of Havana turned into a scene straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

Stella awoke so wet that birds could bathe in her underwear. Strange. She hadn’t even been using performance-enhancing drugs. She could only blame such excited dreams on eating way too many nuclear-powered protein bars she'd bought from the General Nutrition Center. With that bonus round of wet dreams, sleep had surely refreshed her. Stella went on to win the National Championship for Female Weightlifting. Little did she know, her record wouldn’t be broken for another two centuries, and then only by a woman who was also famous for writing erotic poetry.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Yes, they say if you pull the veil off a virgin
Bride you’ll find a realist, the CEO of wireless
Service, a Yoga tycoon, or the micromanager of Military Spending

Who owns a Neo-Byzantine villa
Decorated with Edgar Degas’ Blue Dancers
& Brittany Spears’ underwear. Disguised
In Lady Liberty combat boots,

She plays a drum with her tongue
& teaches the city-dove songs to draw suicide watchers
To urban gardens. Injected with enough methamphetamines
To instant message the Daylights out of us

All, she’s the fertility clinic’s
Most valuable player. But contrary
To what you may have heard, this
Athena, she wouldn’t make a good mother.

Trans-fat-free Fiction

If you’re going to have a heart attack, choose a weekday for any such cardiac mischief. Why? A study conducted by a network of New Jersey hospitals revealed that a heart attack victim receives better care during the weekday than on weekends.

If you’re terminally ill and happen to use marijuana for medical reasons, avoid making your appeal in federal court on Wednesdays because in nine out of ten such cases that fall on a Wednesday, judges will decide you are not immune to federal prosecution. You’re terminally ill; you’re immune system’s on the fritz anyway; why did you think you’d be immune from government intervention, the worst sort of dis-ease?

If you’re a National Football League player who is feeling the onset of Post N.F.L. trauma or a soldier returned from Iraq feeling the onset of PTSD, for crying out loud, don’t choose a Friday morning at 6 am to check into the Psycho-social Ward at places like the Walter Reed Medical Center because at that time Doctor Dementia hasn’t had his Venti White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks Coffee. In that condition, he’s likely to misdiagnose you, steer you to the wrong supportive network, and you’ll end up in a talk session with a bunch of victims who suffer from IRS-related allergies that have gotten them into severe trouble for tax evasion. And those poor darlings were just too embarrassed to submit their tax forms because they had sneezed all over them. What a mess? Who needs it? Be well. Eat trans-fat-free.

Monday, March 12, 2007

On Being Curt

Jim Utterbug is a host of public radio’s Community Hour. His show has earned high regard over the years, and last year it won the prestigious Radio Activity Award for Best Talk Radio 2006. Listeners throughout the community tune into his show at 10 am every day to hear engaging interviews with featured guests that include celebrities, experts, poets, thinkers, professionals, and officials from the local community.

Today, Jim Utterbug has invited a state court judge to speak on his program. This morning, he was running late to work and did not have time to eat breakfast. What’s worse; he bought coffee at the drive through for the first time, ever, and it spilled all over his favorite work shirt when he had to take a sharp turn. He cleaned himself up, but it all felt like the wrong way to start the day.

When his polite guest arrived at the station wearing a pleasant smile, Jim Utterbug did the best he could to bite back his irritable mood. The interview started with discussion about mandatory retirement versus life terms for judges. That topic was followed by how to make divorce proceedings less acrimonious.

Of course, Jim Utterbug invited listeners to call in to the radio station to ask questions. When someone called in to ask the judge about judicial immunity and appealing her own case to a higher court, Jim Utterbug quickly cut her off because she was talking about her personal dispute, about losing custody of her son. This show was supposed to focus on judicial policy only, not personal cases. After Jim’s curt reprimand, the nervous caller curbed her question to make it more applicable to more people. Jim Utterbug was pleased to move on with a show that would satisfy all his listeners.

Next, a senior citizen called in to ask why state court does not have an option allowing Senior Citizens to opt out of jury duty. The federal courts do have such an option, why not this state court? Jim Utterbug quickly became frustrated with this caller too because he wasn’t getting to the point and wasn't stating why he thought it was important for Senior Citizens to be able to opt out of jury duty. The Senior Citizen said, “Jim, you’re cutting me off, not letting me finish.” Jim responded with a curt, “That’s my job!”

Little did Jim Utterbug know that, later that day, the woman who lost custody of her boy would break down in her psychotherapist’s office. She would tell the doctor she knew she shouldn’t let this happen, but Utterbug’s curt tone shattered her fragile emotions. She would cry for what she felt was “no reason at all,” and that would just make her even more upset at herself.

Little did Jim Utterbug know that later that day, in the afternoon, the Senior Citizen who called in to ask about opting out of jury duty would take his regular afternoon nap at 3 pm and would never wake.

This is not to say that Jim Utterbug should not be curt with his callers and not try to steer their comments to the proper ends so that his show maintains its stellar reputation. This is just to show how little Jim Utterbug knows sometimes. And also, this story might point out that while Jim Utterbug did not let that old man finish, Death did. So, maybe Jim Utterbug is not absolutely clear about what his job is because who is he to determine, really, whether a person is or is not finished?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

On Location in Chicago

The movie Stranger than Fiction written by Zach Helm is the first movie I’ve seen in a while that kept me awake. Could the reason be because it is filmed in Chicago? Could it be because there is humor, romance, and a hilarious portrayal of a novelist who is wrestling with the problem of how to kill off the protagonist in her newest piece of fiction? Yes. I adored Stranger than Fiction for all these reasons, but I like it most because of its playful high concept.

Harold Crick has been working as an IRS auditor for twelve years. For twelve years, numbers and solitude organized his entire life. Every day, he’d have a 45.7-minute lunch break and a 3.5-minute coffee break. When he starts hearing a disembodied woman’s voice narrating his life, his mundane life turns suddenly dramatic. After consulting his one work friend, a psychiatrist, and a literature professor, Harold realizes that he is a tax man, who lives a real life in the real world, but there is a novelist writing his life in one of her novels. Her fiction project influences his real life. Harold's concern is whether the story will turn out comic or tragic. Will he hitch up with the attractive baker, who he is auditing; or will he meet with an early death?

This movie combines film and narration in a comic way reminiscent of 1970s Woody Allen kind of humor. It inspired me.

I also realized what a fabulous place Chicago is to make a film. The variety of architectural styles in Chicago offers filmmakers an exciting palette to work with.

This movie featured these places:

55 East Jackson Blvd.
Daley Plaza
River City South Wells Marina Tower Buildings
111 West Jackson
350 East Cermak
Emergency Room at Michael Reese Hospital
Little Village 2500 South Christiana

Chicago’s architecture provides the perfect artistic backdrop for a good high concept movie.

My favorite line was Dustin Hoffman delivering these words: “Dramatic irony will fuck you every time.”

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Cursing Cure

Last Saturday, the night sky adorned itself with a stunning lunar eclipse. Many pedestrians walked around The City, looked up—or didn’t bother to look—and noticed—or didn’t care—that an uncommon shadow obscured the full moon. This seemingly quaint celestial event filled Riva Djinn with total dread. Every time there is a lunar eclipse, Riva suffers from a rare form of feminine aches and pains. Last Saturday, she experienced one of those gruesome attacks. For years, Riva has been trying to find the cure, but medical science hasn’t even assigned a name to her disorder yet. Riva has been thorough in trying to get to the bottom of this problem. After three physicians referred her to nine different specialists in all fields from neurology to cardiology, the mysterious ailment always returned in the event of a lunar eclipse. Naturally, Riva tried holistic approaches. The psychic healer said Riva’s aura gave off too much extrasensory sludge; even the best clairvoyant would never get a clear reading. The Feng Shui Master said Riva’s inner compass bewildered the four directions. The Spiral-energy Healer said that the force fabric of Riva’s inner vitality needed a vacation. And as if her body wasn’t messed up enough, Captain Spirituality said Riva needed a gut renovation in The Core of her consciousness. After amassing a healthy dosage of professional opinion, Riva decided to make peace with her condition. So when last Saturday’s eclipse attack came on, and the sharp pain started to invade her pelvic floor, she cursed the lunar eclipse in nine different languages. “Wouldn’t you know it?” Riva thought to herself. Nine-fold cursing indeed proves an effective way to restore one’s health. Riva’s pain eventually passed, and that was that.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


In ancient times, lovers were united anatomically. People did not walk around in the erect manner that we do today, but they rolled around here, there, and everywhere fused to their beloved in a cozy embrace of happy unity. Say these fused lovers aspired to write fiction: they would turn tricks around a pile of oracle bones. If they didn’t display too much dizziness, they were admitted into the storytellers’ guild. The tribal chief chanted some prayers over their heads that we would think sounded like hip-hop lyrics in today’s idiom. Then people would go out and plow with their tongue. That is to say, they would tell stories in the marketplace and be thrown fruit and coins as payment if the audience liked the tale.

To pay homage to the tradition, the women in the Scribble Bitch Writers Group do a little exercise before each meeting. They do a yoga posture (or Asana) called “Simhasana.” In this posture, the legs are folded and crossed under the buttocks; the palms are placed on the knees with the fingers stretched and spread wide apart. Open the jaw wide and stretch the tongue out towards the chin as far as it will go. Concentrate the gaze on the tip of the nose. Hold the pose for 30 seconds breathing through the mouth.

According to B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, this posture cures foul breath and cleans the tongue. But the Scribble Bitch Writers Group likes to think it performs this posture with devotion and reverence for the ancient storytellers, also known as “those who plowed with their tongues.” This group of rogue scribblers have been tossed out of every tradition they’ve ever tried to join—if simply because they’ve been too flamboyant about revealing the darker feminine secrets. So, they’ve simply appropriated Simhasana for their writing discipline purposes and given it a new name: Fictionasana. Now if only they were really in love with one another, perhaps they could bring that eternal embrace back in style. But wouldn't it be a bit of a challenge to navigate a catwalk while ambulating in that roundabout motion?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Legendary Leak

Tamara Rainy met a guy in a bar.

“Hi. My name is Ted.” He said. Then he went ahead and made a preemptive strike and kissed her smack on the neck.

Later, they went on an official date, and Tamara got to know Ted better. Maybe she liked him? Maybe this time she wouldn’t have to walk away before confiding in this lover that she used to be a man?

But Ted Grove was a Professor of Scandal Management at PL University, so maybe he’d be able to handle the truth in a nuanced way? So Ted and Tamara carried on a passionate relationship, well, until it violated federal statute.

One day Ted opened up and told Tamara that he used to work with the CIA. The Professor told Tamara everything he knew.

“There are bizarre facts that Americans do not know about the war in Iraq.” Ted said. Then he told Tamara everything he knew.

She intended to tell him that she used to be a man, but after learning the whole truth about the war in Iraq, Tamara’s gender transformation seemed a petty detail.

Months later, Tamara found herself on the witness stand in a high profile trial. Prosecutors wanted the whole truth. Tamara didn't know the purpose of most of their questions. They never asked about the most important things, but wanted to know all the details about the night Tamara met Ted at the bar and what she made of the way Ted relieved himself in the gutter outside afterward. She told all she knew; her own testimony bewildered her.

Tears fell from Tamara's eyes when the jury found the professor guilty of his role in a leak.

Later, Tamara visited the professor in prison. He was crying. She said, “Oh, Sweetie. Have no worries. You’re so accomplished. All of America was watching your trial about a leak. That’s one helluva public urination; now, you’re the envy of all big pricks! I should know; I used to have one.”

The professor wiped his eyes dry with Tamara’s silk hankie. He went back to his cell, and she sighed a big sigh of relief to finally get the truth off her chest. Now, that wasn’t so bad.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Fiction Diet Will Lower Your Cholesterol

There is no saturated fat in the current reading list of the Scribble Bitch Book Club.

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li
Nobody’s Perfect by Anthony Lane
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Though the first four books on this list have no clear relationship, reading these books together has been proven to improve kidney function and increase bone density. And there’s nothing like a good Tom Robbins novel to irrigate the colon!

Monday, March 05, 2007

How to Wake Your Playful Writing Voice

A fellow writer who reads this blog, wrote an e-mail to Rebecca Jane asking how to develop a sense of playfulness in prose.

Here’s a possible response to that question, written, of course, in the form of flash fiction:

Kristin Linklater teaches an acting class at Columbia University called Shakespeare and the Modern Voice. She guides students through exercises to strengthen the power of the human voice. In her class, students speak long ooooo vowels that roll up from the pelvic floor. Also, she guides, feel the consonant “B” bounce around in the head until “B” takes over the speaker’s lips. Visualization is an important part of the exercises because a vision triggers a subtle thought/feeling impulse that inspires the breath; so, vowels have colors: O is dark blue; AW is scarlet; EY is pink. Linklater encourages students to work on more than merely beatifying the pronunciation of vowels and consonants; instead, a speaker should use the liberating vocal exercises as a type of “consciousness-raising” activity. The ultimate goal is to be able to read aloud the Shakespearean sonnets with the same urgency as the Bard wrote them.

Dharma Mittra teaches a Psychic Development Meditation class at the Dharma Mittra Yoga Center on 3rd Avenue and 23rd street. He guides students through repetitions of sounds with the voice that are supposed to correspond to the different “Chakras,” or imaginary energy spinning wheels in the body. While the voice releases different sounds, the yogi is supposed to contemplate different colors: red, orange, yellow, green/pink, light blue, indigo, and violet/white. According to the yogis, stimulating the charkas in this way is supposed to promote life force.

So the Scribble Bitch Writers Group decided to enroll in both the Shakespeare seminar and the Psychic Development class. This group of three roguish writing women realized that actors and yogis use similar methods/exercises, just packaged ‘em differently, to boost their energy. To the degree that there is harmonious agreement between the acting warm-ups and yogi’s meditation, the Scribble Bitch Writers Group embraces the shared ideas and applies them to their Writing Practice. Frequency, vibration, symbol, and color—no doubt—have as much a subtle influence on the Writing Voice as they do on the actor’s stage presence or the yogi’s spiritual balance. If you don’t believe the Scribble Bitch Writers Club, check out the recent conversation about Music and Writing featured at Metaxu Café.

Bonus material: Below is a weird writing prompt.

Read the nonsense words while standing up. Allow the vibrations of the sounds of the vowels and consonants to move through every limb of your body. The vibrations will urge your body to move. Follow those urges. You will find yourself moving around to the sounds while you speak this nonsense.


Then sit down and go ahead and write a piece of flash fiction. The exercise will have a subtle impact on your Writing Voice. Promise! It'll move your mind!

This exercise reminded the members of the Scribble Bitch Writers Group that they frequently attend poetry readings after which they felt the reader could have been more animated. They agree that some monotone poetry readers they have heard could benefit from adding a little thought/feeling to their breath and speaking voice. Or else at the local poet’s read-aloud, they might try turning those ol’ Chakras to the Spin Cycle.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Writing Business Ain't Nobody's Business

Carol Mackey reported from the Middle East and Asia for Violent Times Magazine. She is currently a Tickle-Me Fellow in Journalism at Power Lust University. While reporting for Violent Times, she has dodged the Jihad in Pakistan’s tribal lands, and in Katmandu has been caught between the Maoist rebels and the king’s army. Gideon, Tate and Hambolt will publish her first collection of poems entitled “Hate” May 2007, and her first non-fiction book entitled “The Glory Parallel.”

Riva Djinn sold used college books on e-Bay. She is currently a fictitious character from Arabian Jewish folklore living in the Real World. While lounging on her vintage make-out couch, she contemplates those years she spent learning the Chinese language in Guangzhou, China where she lived a very peaceful existence with her husband and his father, mother, and grandmother. Riva recalls delighting in clouds of steam that rose from teacups and rice bowls. A few years ago, she had written and pitched her book entitled "Memoirs of a Chinese Daughter-in-Law" to all the major book publishers, but she never hit pay dirt. As luck would have it, however, she recently sold, on e-Bay, a huge collection of rejection slips that she had bound and covered. Apparently, some guy in Oregon collects rejection letters received by would-be authors. The stacks in his library are growing by the day, and it has recently been reported in Violent Times magazine that his volumes outnumber those collected by the library at the well-endowed Power Lust University.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Volunteer in a Psychological Study

Riva Djinn replied to a Craigslist ad seeking female volunteers for a psychological study. She didn’t really think the research team would find her qualified to participate. They wanted women under 40 who had never been pregnant, nor to Mount Rushmore, and had never been seduced by a politician. Now, Riva matched all the criteria, but she worried she might not qualify because she had certain powers of mind control that most mortals do not have. Wouldn’t that constitute cheating if she were to trick the researchers into a state of Trance Dance? To Riva’s surprise, the research team called her and told her to come to the clinic the following Friday. They instructed her not to eat or drink anything for 24 hours before the experiment. They assured her she would be paid $165. She could really use the money, so she wouldn’t have to throw yet another rent party this month. Last month's rent party ended with a police raid, and she didn't want that again.

Riva arrived at the clinic on the designated day, hungry, thirsty, and ready to play some queer psychological game. A bearded lady dressed in a kimono led Riva to a dark, empty theater and told her to remove her clothing. Then the bearded lady, whose breath smelled of clove and ginger, leaned in close and hissed, “Wait. Wait! Wait for the Puppet Master!”

Riva waited. No one ever showed.

Several hours later, the bearded lady returned, told Riva to dress. Riva was paid the $165 promised to her, and she left. Back at her way-overpriced apartment, she flopped down on her vintage make-out couch and counted the dough. "Next month," she thought, "I'm resorting to the old rent party."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Classic Rock

To conjure the spirit of today’s piece of flash fiction, take a deep breath then speak out loud the quoted phrase below; be sure to use your strongest Rock-n-Roll-Man growl:

“WNXQ New York!”

Riva Djinn dances with the ghost of John Lennon on her private roof deck. It’s Thursday morning. Overcast skies. All Riva’s neighbors have implored Riva to turn up her radio.

Q104.3 Ten in a Row

John Fogerty
T. Rex
The Weight Band
Billy Idol
Rolling Stones
Janis Joplin

At the end of this set, the dead Beatle starts singing along:

I am the eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the Walrus.
goo goo g’joob

Riva’s hips move in a smooth rhythm with this goo goo G’Ghostman.

While they dance, Riva tells Phantom Lennon some random thought that pops in her mind, “You know? Alfred Hitchcock would have despised your song. He had ovophobia. Egg yolks revolted that creeped-out film director so much that he never touched eggs in his life. He considered blood more cheerful because it was red."

Phantom Lennon, knowing a thing or two about women, got the hint that Riva's sudden interest in Hitchcock and ovophobia could only mean one thing:

“Hey, Riva. You ovulating?” Phantom Lennon asks the unemployed genie.

“Indeed, I am, Mister Eggman, Sir! You come closer now! Perhaps we can conceive something. Aren’t you so curious about what the offspring of a phantom and a genie would look like?”

“Well, Riva. Our offspring would surely frighten Alfred Hitchcock because our child would look like the World Army with egg on its face.” Phantom Lennon laughs. Such is the humor of a dead absurdist.