woody allenesque


   And when I was a precocious five-year-old I thought to myself, why is it that children of talent have made names for themselves in music, mathematics and so many other fields but not literature? (Apart from Ashley Daisey but then again her book, written at the age of nine, was a pile of tripe on trifle.) At five I realized that I had my work cut out for me and I set about reading and writing in a rigorous regime that covered everything (imagine a Rocky montage but with a kid doing push-ups over a pile of Penguin Books). And so four months ago I started this site, which begins with a Moby Dick kind of first line, and I’ve been writing a short-short story everyday since. Each day I pretend to be somebody I’m not in order to play with various frames, after all fiction always comes encased within at least one narrative frame or another. Well I threw myself at the idea of creating a story within hundreds of frames. Imagine that Rocky montage again but this time with Robert Rauschenberg – R.I.P. – in his heyday placing a frame within a frame within a frame within a frame, and on and on over a hundred times.  I wanted to create a literary equivalent of that. I figured that would get a nine-year-old some modicum of recognition. So without further ado: hello, my name is Andrew Kincaid.

   And here I am embarking on my head start to a literary career.

   Because I know puberty is going to fuck me up for a while.

 

Rejection

 

   I know I’m neurotic. I know one of my strengths is that I’m neurotic. I think that’s one of my strengths. You see, an hour ago I was trapped between two decisions which had grown to such a size that I felt – figuratively speaking – that I was squeezed in between two walls. The choices were pressing up tight against both sides of my body. I couldn’t move. I was standing outside in the mid-day sunshine trying to decide whether or not to post something. My right hand held a large manila envelop over the mouth of a mail-box. If you post this you will become a pariah of the publishing industry, I heard a voice inside alliterate. I usually try not to pay any attention to that inner alliterative voice because it’s simply niggling worries megaphoned into something noisy and distracting. My theory is that I have a subconscious stutter which manifests itself into alliterative thoughts. I mean that’s just a theory but it’s odd that my inner voice always comes equipped with at least three parallel consonants. I mean why? So there I was in a stand off with a post office box trying to decide whether or not to mail that envelope which contained a creative non-fiction submission for a magazine contest. The piece itself consisted of critiques of fifty rejection letters that I’d received over the years. I thought it would be funny to write reviews of all the rejection letters that had piled up in my closet from PRISM, sub-terrain, Geist, Event, the Walrus and Prairie Fire. In a high-falutin’ stuffy tone, I trashed the editors’ choices of verbs, nouns and logic, e.g. “Ostensibly, Anne Polter’s central motif of ‘enjoyed reading this but we’re going to pass,’ is muddled and evades the central issue of whether the work is good or not. Once again, we find her pussy-footing around prose.” I held all these damning critiques of reviews wondering if they’d be enjoyed as literary caricatures or despised as bitter volleys against individuals. I mean the idea came out of frustration (tepid frustration) but I was hoping that my “artistry” had turned the piece into something more. But I wasn’t sure. My hand wavered over the top of the mail-box until I finally put it to use. I sat down at an empty bus-stop bench a couple meters from the mail-box and started writing all this on the back of this envelope. An extra introduction to frame “Reviewing the Rejection Letters”. A last minute confession of fears. I’m neurotic but I think that’s one of my strengths. It keeps my pen moving and you’ll be hearing from me again and again no matter what. I think.

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   Yes and the past four months of daily fabulas have been an attempt at peeling back the ontological fabric of a solitary self.  In layman’s terms, I’ve claimed to be somebody different everyday for the past four months. I set about doing this in the hopes of unearthing some truth to our understanding of the thinking self with multiple diagonal ontological cuts across different discourses.

   I’ve now finished the experiment and I’m going surfing in Hawaii for the next month where I’m doing some endorsements for Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax.

  Here’s the last story I’ll ever write on this site…

 

Plugged Straight into the Soul

   Here’s a word of caution. I mean, don’t set your sights too high. It’s great to be ambitious and all but you know be realistic about it. If that makes any sense. What I’m trying to say is don’t be like me. I was stupid and I blew the biggest chance of my life.

   It was something like 18 days ago and I was surfing the web. I lit up a joint and I thought to myself: why can’t they make a giant bong computer, you know a glass bowl with the CPU and screen in a secure layer around the water? How hard would that be? It would make somebody millions and millions of dollars. A bongputer. A compubong. One or the other. So I was thinking about this and watching some weird Laurie Anderson videos from the 80’s. (Is that the blue man group as her back up band?  Jesus, the 80’s were weird.) So I was laughing at this weird video and thinking about literarally getting stoned online. (Come to think of it people might get tripped out by a computer-bong, they might think that they’re being tracked by forces online. Maybe it wouldn’t be a big seller. I mean sometimes the Fear hits and there’s no way around it.) But this story isn’t about getting stoned or ideas for new bongs.

   I’m just setting the stage.

   So there I was surfing the web and then I thought, what would happen if I google google. You know type “google” into the search bar. I took a big puff from my little J and typed in g-o-o-g-l-e. It was disappointing. There was something about google (Duhhh!) but then I thought, what if I type in “googling google” and then some news stories about google came up. I was disappointed and went to the kitchen to make myself a macaroni and cheese sandwich. (Being stoned is kind of like being pregnant. You know, those cravings. The only difference is you shouldn’t smoke weed when you’re pregnant.) I came back to the computer and typed “googling googling google”. Only two sites came up.

   So I did it one more time with one more google and that’s when I saw God or the heart of the internet or whatever you want to call it. It was fucking amazing. I felt like I was going down this water slide made out of a plasma screen t.v. and all the dopest rock videos were playing all around me. Then I suddenly hit pure entertainment. Like I was seeing everything that existed online all at the same time. An hour later I woke up on the floor and I got back into my seat and I did it again. 

   After a couple times I had to call my friends and tell them what happened and so they did it right away too and then word got out faster than you can say “crack” and then everyone around the world was tripping out to the web and there are all these theories about who started it and all these stoners and religious fanatics and real weirdos are coming out of the woodwork, claiming that they invented this or discovered this or know what it means but really I did it and now everyone’s over it. It’s last week’s news. 

  Because how much fun can you have by yourself anyway.

  Well here I am.

  Maybe I will try that bong-computer idea.

   I’m a pencil-pushing scribe. Here’s a modified part of a chapter from my book: 3, 321, 453 short-cuts to Becoming a Successfull Writer.

 

 

    Short-Cut Number Fifty Five:  The Dreaded Writer’s Block  

 

    Sometimes you sit down with the best of intentions to write but nothing flows from your imagination. First off, don’t panick, it happens to everyone. Even Shakespeare experienced writer’s block. Some scholars understand Hamlet’s struggle to take action to be an embodiment of Shakespeare’s inability to come up with a character flaw for the titular character: to write or not to write that was his question. The brilliance of Shakespeare was that he turned writer’s block into a memorable play. Certainly, there are other scholars who suggest that Shakespeare was simply the pen name of a semi-literate bar wench named Lucy who wrote her plays based on the affairs that she had with well heeled men over sixty but I would suggest that even she must have struggled with writer’s block. Some scholars of the Torah suggest that the 7th day of creation, God’s day off, was really a case of  writer’s block, creater’s block.  Or in the word’s of a Canadian rocker from the 80’s, Kim Mitchell, “Might as well go for a soda.”

     Here’s my trick to overcoming writer’s block:

     Okay close your eyes and imagine you’re in a dark room. (This will be easy since closing your eyes creates a sense of darkness.  Imagining you’re in a dark room with your eyes open is very challenging.  Actually keep your eyes open but imagine you’re in a dark room.  This will be a more effective test of your imagination.  If you want you can imagine you’re closing your eyes to find your way into that dark room but I’d prefer you didn’t rely on that kind of mental crutch.  Just remember your eyes are actually open but you’re imagining that you are in a dark room.  You can’t see anything. (Even these words. (Let’s just say you’re remembering them so clearly it’s like you’re visualizing them in your mind’s eye.)))

      Now reach your hand out and feel around for a doorknob.  So you’re feeling around for this doorknob which has the warmth of a human hand.  When you find the knob you feel like you’re shaking somebodies hand.  It’s inviting.  It’s warm.  It’s just a doorknob though and this isn’t a creepy doorknob like in a horror movie where all parts of the house are made out of human body parts.  Okay don’t be scared, don’t be scared.  Its okay.  I’m here.

    This is writing.  You’re a writer.  You are overcoming writer’s block.  Just remind yourself of that.  That is your mantra.  This is my mantra.  My mantra is this.  My mantra is this.  When I first tried to find my own mantra I found the word itself so strange and foreign at first that I was just repeating the word mantra to remember it.  Mantra became my mantra.  So my mantra became, this is my mantra.  It’s very simple and self contained.  For me it means being able to remember something even though its strange and foreign sounding.

    So back to our cure for the dreaded writer’s block.  You are holding the doorknob that’s shaped like a hand and then you turn it like you would turn someone’s wrist in a self-defense move.  You are not angry but that’s just what its like and you open the door and what do you suddenly see but a mirrored reflection of yourself. 

    Quick sit down and write the first think that comes into your head about the last time you saw yourself in a mirror.  Were you wearing a hat ?  Was an animal wearing a Richard Nixon mask perched somewhere on the hat ?  What kind of animal was it ?  (Notice I’m letting my imagination take me away from my real memories.  I’m using my real memories as springboards into an imaginative realm where anything is possible. Including… a break through of that nasty old writer’s block.)

     Begin within yourself and then move out from yourself.  This is my mantra.  This is my mantra.  This is my mantra.

     Next week we’ll explore ways of searching deep within yourself to find that perfect literary agent just for you.

     No need to wipe your spectacles upon your lapel, what you are currently reading is of the utmost veracity. I’m the captain of the ship upon which Charles Darwin observed so many forms of fascinating life, unique creatures upon which he sometimes took violently sick but those are tales for another day. I recently clapped my eyes upon a site started by my former charge himself. Hazzah! ‘Tis the time of wonders: Star Trek reenactments against blue-screens, rat’s brains flying planes and Charles Darwin – gentleman-blogger. 

    For my part I have been writing a short-short story everyday from a different point of view in order to rejoin this whiplash-quick world, I’ve been trying to get into the shoes, skin and mindsets of my contemporaries. Soon I’ll be ready to step out my front door. It has been such a long time. My beard is like a chain holding me down. Soon, I will seek out its end, find what it’s wrapped around and I will cut myself free!! 

   For the time being, I do hope you enjoy today’s short-short story which is about a starling...

 

Birdy, Birdy What Doest Thou Look Upon?

 

To Mary Shrewsberry, 

 

    I crave your pardon for not having written ere this. I took ill a fortnight ago and found that even my favorite quill that is carved at the top in the shape of your likeness (the time in which you raised your cute nose to sneeze in the field of daffodils ) even that beacon of you was not enough to move me to letter writing. Besides, William Wordsworth – who temporarily lodges with me – snores every night to the tune of La Marseille. Whether or not his heart still remains in Paris I know for an imperious fact that his left testicle was lost in some of the revolutionary fighting which he bore witness to. And I complain about illness and petty things while this great poet doesn’t even let a solitary testes hold him back. (Well he occasions never to pee at public urinals. Perhaps this is why.) I’ve been desiring to write to you of all the sublime things I’ve learned from William. How to compose verse in heroic couplets, how to enter the soul of a starling and how to get an advance on a collection of poems that aren’t even yours. Well this is an amusing ruse: you call upon a store and act pompous and great and shout “Where is my advance? I have yet to receive my advance!!” At this point you should grab a lesser manuscript which is almost out of stock and wave it in the air. The clerk – who’ll generally know nothing of the higher financial dealings of the store – will forthwith produce a pound or two in order to appease your wrath. William and I did this in London last weekend and collected enough for pints for ourselves and the starling which we had been observing. Ere this we had been studying for poetic purposes a starling through binoculars: William observed and gave the bird his hilarious Scottish brogue. He spoke as if he were the bird watching people. William thou art a gas, I exclaimed. We took a break from this and got money through the previously mentioned mode and then with armloads of beers we went out in search of the starling. Once we caught it – William impersonated a Cottonwood Tree in order to lure it towards us – it took to the beer as if it were seed.  I now have a new and goodly roommate who doesn’t snore. He does however wake me in the morning with his hung over twitterings. 

 

Your affectionate friend,

John Keats 

   In all probability, if you’ve taken a philosophy class in the past three decades you’ve had to read “What is it like to be a Bat ?”, my 1974 essay exploring consciousness and the inescapable mind-body problem. A little known fact is that my first draft of this essay was called “What is it like to be a Sock ?”  
  Over the past three months I’ve explored the intractable question of consciousness through the following questions: “What is it like to be Pac-Man ?” “What is it like to be George W Bush ?” and “What is it like to be a Sled Dog ?”
  I sincerely hope that today’s short story proves to be as thought provoking as the rest…


The Solitary Sock 

    Nobody understood. Beige tried to explain this to the therapist but his efforts were met with the same professional nodding of the head.
   – I mean, she was my soul mate. We spent so much time intimately tucked away inside each other. She was so soft when I went inside her. Sometimes she went inside me and it was just as warm and wonderful.
   The Therapist briefly opened his eyes with real interest but then he realized that the sock was simply describing a folding of the laundry.  He felt cheated, tricked into remembering the mundane. Yes, he needed to do laundry when he got home.
   – But it was healthy. We spent at least one day every week doing our own thing. I sometimes went onto his right foot. Sometimes his left. And vice versa her. Once the shoes went on we wouldn’t see each other for the whole day. I trusted her. Of course I trusted her. Where was she going to go? But it was in that orgy of a drier that things started to change. One day, we got split up and I was matched up with this French Beige sock that obviously wasn’t meant for me but well spent the entire week together. Nothing happened.
   Why was he so embarrassed about the inevitable? One indolent sock fretting over the inevitable, the Therapist thought. Can’t he just pick up some hobby and get it out of his system? Hockey. Golf. S and M twister? The Therapist felt self-conscious about his own socks. They were old. He’d have to buy a new pair. He’d never felt self-conscious before. It was because of the stupid sock who just blathered on and on.
   – Well when we got matched back together again the following week I wanted to find out if anything had happened. If it meant anything to her. I mean French Beige, a sophisticated sock. And brand new. I harped on it all week but what else was there to do. We’re folded up inside each other in the dark and what do we have to do but talk. You can’t keep your worries in under those circumstances. And then the following week she was gone and I was thrown on my own to the bottom of the drawer. Grief was compounded by guilt and I spent a lot of time in that little sock-dungeon. 
    -Well Beige I think we’re getting somewhere but once again we’ve run out of time. 
   The Therapist could feel the hole at the back of his sock. Here was a perfectly good sock sitting right in front of him. What if he just grabbed it and put it on. Oh it was tempting. But wouldn’t it be suspicious that Beige had gone into his office and hadn’t come out. His receptionist would wonder. 
   -See you next week then
   Unless he accidentally ran into him in the bathroom just outside his office.
   There was a plan for a perfect little abduction. 



 

   It’s time to take off the final mask. Over the past month I’ve claimed to be a host of various personalities: Tom Cruise, a boy dictating the stories of a ouija board and Britney Spears to name a few. In truth, my name is Simon Bridgeton and I’m a headache specialist from the Headache Division of Mayo Clinic’s Neurology Department in Minnesota. In my private life, however, my fascination, which has spanned countless decades now, is with neurological disorders. Hence my interest in the different people whom I’ve taken up as writers of this blog. I’ve been crafting these entries in order to obtain a more profound understanding of these deeply troubled people. (Does Tom Cruise suffer a species of neurological disorder and will there be a condition someday called, “Tom Cruise.”  ? ) 
    I also happen to fancy myself an amateur author. It is for that reason which I’ve written the following story.



Hope for Horror, Rest in Pain


     The rickety carriage rolled to a sudden stop in front of the dark mansion. I opened the small carriage door and lowered myself to the dark snow below. I reached into the pocket of my inner vest to consult my fob. 
      “It’s half eight now so I shan’t be more than half an hour, Yorik,” I shouted at my carriage driver who wrapped his arms around himself as if he were in a straight jacket. He had a similarly deranged look upon his face which had taken me years to grow accustomed to. For the first six months that he was in my service I would, were he to appear suddenly at my back, automatically strike at him with an umbrella or whatever was at hand. His appearance was like an insane phantom. In spite of the blows upon his person, he remained steadfast and explained that he was familiar with this response and apologized and asked if I needed any more tea or if I would like to go for a carriage ride through the Lake District. I would invariably soften my blows and then come to my senses. He was a good servant.
    “Yes, sir,” he said and as I walked to the large doors of the mansion I saw that he was consulting physic in the bottle. It was cold out and I did not wish to begrudge him such an indulgence.
    In the middle of the front door was a knocker in the shape of a devil’s head. It’s nostrils were grotesquely large and – given the flatness of the rest of the face – were the only surface upon which I could lift this curiosity. I put my finger in the devil’s left nostril, dug it in securely and lifted the knocker. I felt something prickly and painful on my finger and released it of a sudden and the knocker fell to the door with a loud crash. It opened slowly.
   “Doctor Mandlestrom ?”
    “The same.”
    The man, who had the look of a consumptive, extended an arm in greeting. 
    “And you must be Tom Cruiser ?”
    “Yes,” he said with a giant flash of teeth which seemed large enough to use as billiard balls in a game of snooker. (Although I myself detest the sport if it can be called as such.) Indeed when he opened his mouth to smile his entire visage was transformed from sickness to a strange sort of health. “Please do come in. The cold is particularly biting tonight.”
     He took me on a tour of his home while explaining how much he admired my work, my writings on eccentric maladies of the mind. I nodded graciously whenever I could but I was unnerved by his manner.
    “And this is my dining room,” he said and laughed maniacally. I had no knowledge of the cause of his bemusement but I tried to keep a pleasant expression upon my face. I thought of the last time I’d hit my servant and how profusely he’d apologized. This calmed my nerves.  
     “And now we come to the piece de resistance,” he said with a flourish of his arm that knocked a stuffed ferret dressed like Oscar Wilde straight off the mantle-piece. “As you see I’ve collected many a curiosity. There are stories behind every item in my home.”
   I smiled but was growing impatient to see a person in his company whom he’d written me about three months previous. A man of the most peculiar nature. 
   “I saved this ferret from certain death on the side of the road. It had been ridden over by a carriage and nobody was kind enough to stop to help it. I knew I was the only one who could give it CPR. Years later I had it immortalized as it’s favorite author.”
    We sat down at his large dining room table and I realized that here was a man who was perhaps more deranged than the creature he was claiming to harbor. Obviously, he spent too much of his time alone in this large mansion with nothing but echoes of his voice to give him companionship.
    “And where is this man that you wrote to me of. The man who thinks he’s a chair ?”
     “Why sir you’re seated upon him,” he said and threw his head back in hysterical laughter. 
    With a start I looked down and realized that I was indeed seated upon the backside of a man whose arms stretched up as if the arms of a chair. His forehead balanced upon the ground and he was perfectly still.
    “He was raised by chairs,” Tom Cruiser said to me laughingly. “He was abandoned by his pauper family and left in an equally abandoned warehouse of old chairs. Those chairs taught him everything he knows.”
    I pulled out my notepad and started writing feverishly.
   What a marvelous oddity !