Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hanoi Hilton II

Cindy and Dr. Gutt were sun tanning themselves this afternoon when I came home from the dog fights. The water looked refreshing, and to be fair, it was a perfect day out, but I truly hate when Cindy doesn’t wear her bikini brazier in front of Pinko. I get it, I get it. The man gave you those hooters, and he’s seen them both pre- and post-op, but goddamn it, there’s nothing sacred about artificial breasts when she’s showing them to her commie surgeon all the time.
“Where’s Rage?” she had asked, and I had to tell her that he was at the kennel and might not make it. I thought she’d be mad, but she just fanned herself with an old edition of ¡Mira! and leaned back in her lounge chair.
Pinko was in an orange Speedo I hadn’t seen him in before, and I briefly noticed splotches of dark discoloration from his sweating balls before I turned away with bile in my throat. His little dainties matched his orange skin as well as Cindy’s enormous sombrero and bikini shorts and flip flops. They had probably coordinated their outfits, and I was more than pleased to see Cindy’s pink cast contrasting so brightly against all their orange. The Maverick is omnipresent, I thought privately.
Pinko told me I was looking paler than usual and recommended I take a “splash” in the pool. I pulled my shirt cuff past my Rolex and then said “Battlestar Galactica” in my best mongoloid voice. Cindy scowled at me, so I scowled back and said “It’s Friday. He knows I watch Battlestar on Friday.”

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Love To Campbell

Dear Campbell Brown,

I’
ve decided to obsess over you as a writing exercise. I hope you don’t mind. Since this is our first correspondence, I’ll ask, do you remember when our eyes first met? I do. It was during the Democratic primaries on February 21st of this year, and you were moderating a CNN debate between Barack Obama and Hillary “Second Place” Clinton here in Austin, Texas. I was nesting among my bedful of unfolded laundry, still warm from the dryer, and shoveling spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry’s “Chunky Monkey” into my mouth, when you entered my life. Perhaps it is because you were actually in my city that my mind was so full of questions about you. You were here, only a few short miles from my TV set, but after seeing you for the first time, I found the simple act of thought difficult and decided that driving to the University of Texas under such debilitating conditions might prove a hazard. Instead, I straightened my posture and observed your in-depth questions and physical radiance. Your eyes, your smile, your thick brown hair, and your long, long neck, quite literally stunned me. I initially misinterpreted my immediate paralysis as some kind of iced-cream induced brain freeze, but I’ve since experienced subsequent...rapture during and following your “CNN’s Election Center” program and various television appearances, and I now realize that it is an almost spiritual manifestation of love. I love you, Campbell. Campbell, I love you.

Affectionately,

C

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hanoi Hilton

I was dreaming about him again last night, and when I awoke, I had done it again. Christ. Thank God for Cindy. She’s been so forgiving, so understanding all these years. Both my shoulder scars throbbed like rifle butts and bayonets, and she told me, when my head was clear, that I had sat on her hip and wedged my foot under her chin and pulled her arm out of its socket again. She couldn't see because she was wearing her sleep mask, the pink satin one that Laura had given her two Christmases ago. As always, she told me I was screaming in Vietnamese. She says that’s what scares her the most because my voice changes and the muscles on my face form words differently. She says I’m a different man.
Dr. Gutt aka Doctor “Pinko” agrees with her and says I take on the persona of my captors because of some homo-erotic need to dominate. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Cindy was furious with me when I called his credentials into question. But I thought it necessary to point out to both of them that he is a plastic surgeon, her plastic surgeon, and not a psychiatrist.
When I asked him why he regarded my nightly terrors as homosexual, he admitted that Cindy had confided to him that I sometimes call her “Lao” when I have her hands riot tied behind her back and her bloomers pulled down around her thighs. I couldn’t believe she told him that. It was her idea to blindfold me for Christ’s sake. She knows how I react to sensory deprivation. I tried explaining that to Pinko, but he just said “mmm-hmmm” and swung his putter.
At least Cindy got a nice cast out of it. She has pink everything. Her shoulder was only sore this morning, but I had fractured three metacarpals in her right hand. “Handshake,” Pinko said, looking at me through a jiggling cube of green Jell-O. “Problem solved.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Woe

I’m officially suffering from writers’ block. I say “officially” because I’m personally defining it as what I’m experiencing, and I’m really the only one with the authority to diagnose this subjective menace. I just realized it. The symptoms are as follows:
complete lack of inspiration and...I have writer’s block.
I used to write mini poems about my pens or coffee to stimulate my mind when I thought I had writer's block. They used to work, but know now that I didn't really have any writing blocks back then.
I need to exercise. Or, I need my friends to succeed, so I can be jealous and motivated. Perhaps I'll climb a tree when I get home. I haven't done that for a long time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Get Me The Hell Out Of Debt Fund

That's right, folks. I've added a handy Get Me The Hell Out Of College Debt "Donate" button as a desperate reflex to the financial stranglehold I'm in. Now, you too can contribute to my life's success.
I got the idea from a writer by the name of Cheeseburger Brown, a well-established online entity who gives away his writings. While I tip my proverbial hat to his strikingly modern approach to the literary world, I won't be posting my books until I'm desperate there too. I'm almost there.
So, if you're swimming in doe and wondering how to spend it, give it to the charitable cause of me!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 26

Day 26 of my wait for Glimmer Train to accept one of three stories I submitted to them. I'd really like them to give me money. I'll be pretty disappoined if they don't. It's like the lottery for me. I rarely waste a hard-earned dollar on the game (except when the stakes are really high and everyone is playing), but I'm always disappointed when I do play and I don't win. Realistically, the chances of publication are pretty small, and admitedly, one of the stories, in retrospect, is garbage. But the other two are pretty good if I do say so myself. Come September 1st, it's open season, and I'll be a wild man of simultaneous short story submissions.
Hi Chris.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Representative

He nudged the door open with a joint-bending index finger. The rectangular plate screwed to the door had worn through its chrome polish, straight to the cheaper brass alloy. He wondered how many millions of oily caresses the metal had endured before it lost its integrity and gave way to the lesser metal. Above the plate, more germ-conscious men had left their own dark smear on the wood of the door. The actual portal was a walnut color but the greasy impression of countless hands seeped into the even-toned wood to the shade of rot, and he avoided that spot as well. Inside the two-man restroom, there was a urinal and a toilet. The urinal held a tiny bowl of orange piss in its gullet. Yellow-tinted coffee bubbles sparkled around the smooth-cornered hole of the device, still hissing and popping from the last man’s expulsion. He walked into the toilet stall. The seat was down and spots of sprayed shit dotted the back of the seat and dried as flaky trickles on the tiled wall behind. The last occupant had apparently been a standing one and left trembling drops of well-hydrated urine on the left and right hemispheres of the horseshoe seat. Between every man’s feet, unfathomable amounts of dripped piss had swelled and distorted the grout on the tiled floor into a bulging mutant surface. While apparently passing a coiling tube of feces, a man had scrawled “Republicans fuck their sisters, bitch” to the right of the toilet paper dispenser. The message was written in black marker and was highly stylized: slanted, aggressive, angry. Someone who disagreed had hastily written in thin-lined pen, “dems f republicans sisters 2.” This response was written high and angled, as though the man was standing when inspiration guided his hand. “H.R.6566 is pussy” another vandal wrote. The middle “5” and “6” of the proclamation slimed an inky rivulet as though a reader responded with a splatter of spit. The man flipped his tie over his shoulder and urinated. He was careful not to whiz on the seat and add to the filth of the place, though he would not touch the disgusting flush handle even with the soles of his leather shoes. He jiggled his dick, carefully directing his final drops into the toilet and not the saturated floor, and tucked it back past the clean white elastic of his jockeys. He left the stall and stood in front of the sink. The entire top section of the wall mirror was broken off in a clean conchoidal wave, so his image stopped reflecting at the knot of his pink tie. He removed an alligator-skin whiskey flask from his coat and sterilized the grimy facet handle with its amber liquid. He took a long gulp from the expensive gift and stared at the dripping handle. He’d only touched the door with the gold “Gentlemen” sign and decided that his hands would only get dirtier by washing them there. He splashed whiskey over the pad of his offending index finger and massaged the alcohol between thumb and forefinger. He turned to yank a paper towel from the continuously feeding wall dispenser when he noticed a message he’d never seen scratched into the mirror: “¡D-TEX POR VIDA PUTO!” Anger heated from the man’s rising testicles to the pulsing temples on his head, and he slammed his fist into his hand. “Bitch!” he hissed. It was Sanchez. He knew it. Goddamn wetback, rubbing in his dirty ear-mark victory. Let’s see if you’re still around in six months, you smug little ese. He reached across the chipped sink, holding his tie and coat to his stomach so it wouldn’t brush against the wet countertop, and he scratched a deep gash across the insult with the diamond of his Stanford class ring. He pounded his fist again, snatched a paper towel with which to pull the door handle and dashed across Minton tiles to tell his committee what he’d seen. The brown paper towel unwrapped from the door handle and floated to the ground as the man’s tapping shoes echoed around a corner, and it settled there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

At little more...

Going further on that "Do You Realize??" business I posted earlier, my friend Bash pointed me to an NPR segment with the Flaming Lips' lead singer, Wayne Coyne, discussing his views on life, and if you listen to the audio, it ends with part of "Do You Realize??" playing. In short, I'm a genius.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Video

Because I'm a fool and can't figure out how to post a youtube video without setting up more online accounts, here is the link to a song I've been obsessing over, thanks to Elrod. Zooey Deschanel is an actress you may recognize but she's also a muscian and part-time goddess.
She & Him - Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
The first video from She & Him's debut record Volume One!http://www.mergerecords.com/store/store_detail.php?catalog_id=530
Credits:DIRECTOR Ace Norton
DP Michael Rizzi
EDITOR Isaac Hagy
PRODUCER Charles Spano
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Jeff Pantaleo
PRODUCTION COMPANY Partizan Entertainment, LLC

Monday, August 18, 2008

venetian blinds

I won’t go in to extraordinary detail when describing Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Jealousy because if you’ve read it, you’ll understand my reluctance to reread it for deconstruction’s sake. If you haven’t read it, I’ll try and give you a reason to.
Jealousy, published in 1957, is defined as a “Nouveau Roman” (New Novel) or “antinovel” which is defined by my trusty Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms as “A type of contemporary fiction that attempts to present the reader with experience itself, unfiltered by metaphor or other vehicles of authorial interpretation...Confusion is an intended result of the narrative experiments [antinovelists] perform that typically involve fragmentation and dislocation.” I can’t think of any antinovelists off the top of my brain other than Robbe-Grillet, but they’re out there.
The very nature of an antinovel is pretty damn hard to achieve, and after reading Jealousy, I objected to Robbe-Grillet’s success. I take it back now because I’ve realized that completely avoiding the various elements of fiction is, frankly, impossible. An author can have a settingless story, but that leaves a lot to depend on character which can’t be even lightly developed in terms of an antinovel. Barring setting and character, featureless characters can maintain dialogue and move a story along, but dialogue will indirectly reveal characters by simply speaking. Plot can be avoided, as it is in Jealousy, but a theme cannot because inevitable symbolism may be interpreted in everything from objects to language to sentence structure and related to a point to the story. Soooo, I think Robbe-Grillet did a fine job, considering so many wicked elements working against him.
The story is set on a banana plantation and is simply the repetitive and objective telling of a woman, A, and her neighbor Franck’s interactions by a third unnamed narrator, recurrently from behind a venetian-blind vantage point.
Though many have described Jealousy as a detached description of events by an unseen third person, I feel quite comfortable calling that unseen person “the husband” and the novel an embodiment of his irrational jealousy over his wife’s ambiguous intimacy with Franck. The at times painful repetition of description is an obvious obsession and over analysis of the woman’s actions. The continuous counting of three place settings at dinner and afternoon refreshments indicates an obsession over his wife’s seemingly over-hospitability toward their always nearby neighbor Franck. The narrator is constantly thinking, thinking, thinking, counting banana trees to relieve his mind when he’s not internally measuring the distance between his seated wife’s hand and their seated neighbor’s.
If the antinovel’s repetition does not become a clear vehicle of expressive emotion, the original French title should: La Jalousie, which dually means both venetian blinds and jealousy.
Voilà.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Feel better here...or worse. It doesn't matter which.

A short, short breakdown of two things that bring me comfort, peace even: the song “Do You Realize??” by the Flaming Lips and the short novel, The Stranger, by Albert Camus.

“Do You Realize??” is what I would call an existential song. The whole album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, is rather existential. Confronting death face first, the song asks its listener to stop fretting over the world and enjoy the fact that s/he’s alive. Reality is merely perception, and it dies with its beholder; therefore, reality as we know it will inevitably be gone, and what’s left of humanity will exist in the same perceptionless nothing, where mountains of anguish and joy are leveled and nothing matters most. This is inevitable, and I sigh with relief when I remember that “everyone you know, someday, will die.”

The Stranger is different. The Stranger has shown me that I can’t make sense of a senseless place. I used to watch syndicated news with outrage and disgust. I watch it now for the weather because, really, the heat and glare of the sun affects me more than shady politicians, who always get caught with their dicks in strange holes, and I know, as the world wobbles around, there is an angry French mob, waiting to validate me and offer a place in their pumping hearts where I can always live.

I enjoy thinking of these things when I’m overwhelmed with both failure and ambition.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Déjeuner du matin vs. Breakfast

Best poem on the block (scroll for English translation):

"Déjeuner du matin"
Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler
Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder
Il s'est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis
Son manteau de pluie
Parce qu'il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder
Et moi j'ai pris
Ma tête dans ma main
Et j'ai pleuré.
-Jacques Prévert

I was looking over my copy of Paroles: Selected Poems by Jacques Prévert and Lawrence Ferlinghetti's translation of "Déjeuner du matin" because I've long had conflict with part of his translation. Where Prévert uses the phrases "Sans me parler/Sans me regarder," Ferlinghetti consistantly translates, "Without a word to me/Without a look at me." Since his publishing company, City Lights Books, published this bilingual edition, I supposed he could do anything he wanted and did. So in typing this poem on my blog, I exchanged all the "Without a word to me/Without a look at me" to the less literal but more representative of interpretation "Without speaking to me/Without looking at me." In English, the poem is more fluid that way, but unfortunately, its meaning changed with my meddling. I was shocked. For me, "Déjeuner du matin" is a struggle, not between two people but between people and the painful repetition in life that make us want to cry out. Ferlinghetti preserved that meaning in his translation, but mine, mine created a whole new conflict of deterioration in what is suddenly a personal relationship. I still find that to be stunningly profound, though less global, less accessible. The French language covered both meanings, and left them plainly visible for readers to ponder over. The original poem is untranslateable because the two English versions I've put forth are too polarizing to be adequate. One is general, and the other is specific, but both are incomplete. Because I like that Ferlinghetti kept my favorite interpretation in his translation, I changed my thinking and translated the poem his way, repetitiously, and crying while doing it. I did change the last sentence from "And I I" to "And me I." The extra spaces that Ferlinghetti inserted between I's are upsetting, and the the grammar's wrong anyway...I think.

"Breakfast"
He put the coffee
In the cup
He put the milk
In the cup of coffee
He put the sugar
In the cafe au lait
With the coffee spoon
He stirred
He drank the cafe au lait
And he set down the cup
Without a word to me
He lit
A cigarette
He made rings
With the smoke
He put the ashes
In the ashtray
Without a word to me
Without a look at me
He got up
He put
His hat on his head
He put
His raincoat on
Because it was raining
And he left
In the rain
Without a word
Without a look at me
And me I took
My head in my hand
And I cried.
Trans. Moi

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 12

So, this is the 12th day I've eagerly checked the status of the three stories I submitted to Glimmer Train to find all three "In Process" which, according to their definition, means they've received it. Does that mean they've read each story and are considering their individual magnificence? or does "In Process" mean they're simply adding it to the pile of other shit they're going to eventually read? Too late, I discovered that the two founding sisters are the only submission readers, and I wondered and still do if all three stories are too gender saturated. I can easily see how some of what I write may be perceived as sexist. They're not. Chauvinistic, yes, but sexist no. I would have submitted it to them anyway.
I chose Glimmer Train because they accept simultaneous submissions, don't charge a reading fee (if you're not entering a contest), and pay around 700 bucks for each story. https://www.glimmertrainpress.com/writer/html/index2.asp

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Inaugural Blog

Even though I believe blogs are as egocentric, as myspace and facebook (both of which I maintain), I've decided to enter the cutthroat world of literature and must also create and maintain what is called a "platform" by the sages of entertainment. This elusive platform was best described to me by fellow artist Collin Fletcher (aka "Mr. Fletch" to Kealing middle schoolers) as showing your dick to people who want to tug on it and not in a good way. To a modest person, that's rather fucking embarrassing. I'm paraphrasing, of course. I don't quite recall if he used the words "dick" or "fucking," but that's how I interpreted our conversation.
I finished what's turned out to be a 3.5-year goddamn novella. Four of seven literary agents politely shat on my query letter, and I still haven't heard from the other three. With my hands in discouraged pockets, I quickly got to work on the second part of the six parts I have swirled in my pretty head. Perhaps because the second book is completely true, I've written, in a couple of months, what has taken years to finish in my novella. I've had fun writing it too. So that's where I'm at now.
Two things now: 1) I ask, in the off chance that this is actually being read by anyone, for platform idears. I'm eternally working on a personal website, and I've submitted shorts to various lit mags, so there's that. 2) Here's a variation on the query I sent out. Email me or post what you think I can to make it more dazzling. At this time, there's nothing I can/am willing to do about the word count. It's a novella, and until I'm finished with the second book, it will stay that way.

Dear Mr. Agent,

Because I believe nonfiction can be as artful as fiction, my novel, The Stargazers: a Momentary Memoir, may be of interest to you.

Charlie’s love has died with Valérie, and her affection, which briefly gave him reason, is replaced with the empty rationality that his atheism has created. He flees the sudden meaninglessness of work and school to the adventure-road of hitchhiking, a place where he met the French-Canadian woman he once worshipped but ultimately deserted.

Along Charlie’s travels, the finality of existence is observed in American icons like Mt. Rushmore with its weathering granite and Lake Michigan in its Great complacency. Absurdity is evident in the pesky company of a tiny purple ape, Charlie’s equine backpack, Rocinante II, and the omnipresence of his lost Québécoise.

The Stargazers: a Momentary Memoir is an appeal to return to awe once the spiritual, emotional, and existential idols that balance reality are removed, and there truly is nothing. The story is a struggle between understanding and ignorance and the translation of that conflict into confused action. What is right? What is wrong? What is real? What is not? Where do philosophy, love, and gods meet? If the answers are not evident, the stars can help us all forget the questions.

The Stargazers: a Momentary Memoir is complete at around 33,000 words. It is the first of a six-part series, The Stargazers, that in its entirety should be considered narrative nonfiction or memoir; nevertheless, each intimately connected piece may also stand alone as literary fiction. The six parts will consist of several media including a graphic novel. I am well into the second novel, a memoir.

I graduated from Texas State University, where I majored in English and minored in French. This novel was written with careful consideration for various schools of literary theory such as psychoanalysis and postmodernism. I live in Austin, Texas.

My manuscript is ready to be sent at your request.

I appreciate your time and consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
C. Andres Alderete
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