Knock. Untuner of Guitars.

Another Guitar God uncovered during closet archaeology

Knock. Untuner of strings, God of the open mic. Legend says if you say his name three times from the stage, someone will loosen your teeth for you with their fists.

His name is Knock. Untuner of guitars, God of the open mic. Legend says if you say his name three times from the stage, someone will loosen your teeth for you with their fists. (circa 1994)

Four Inch Failures

A recently unearthed cartoon from 1996.

FIF

FIF2

FIF3

Humor Me — Eat, Sleep, Write

The Wednesday edition of my regular blog over at Eat, Sleep Write.
http://eatsleepwrite.net/humorme

Any Team Can Have A Bad Eon

goatThere’s a mantra one will hear in Chicago. It starts in the spring and usually by June it grows to a cacophony of disgust. “There’s always next year.”

Today the teams owners spoke up about this oft repeated phrase. They are asking everyone to refrain from saying it, as it gives the coaching staff and management unbearable anxiety. The thought of putting together a successful team and having them ready to compete in only a year,  it puts a lot of pressure on the organization.

The city is developing a concession phrase, working with the team as well as the general public. So far their offerings of “Give it ten years or so,” and “There will be other millennia,” were both rejected by the team as unrealistic time frames.

In the end the Cubs and the city came to an agreement. The phrase they chose is much longer than anyone wanted. It lacks the poetic ring of the old phrase, but at least it now reflects an attainable goal for the team.

“There will always be survivors in the dystopian post-nuclear-apocalypse wasteland, and perhaps some of them will form a baseball team as a nostalgic display of escapism, maybe then, and only then, will the Cubs have a chance at winning their division.”

Flip Top in Slumberland

A Salute to Winsor McCay

Flip Top in Slumberland: A  Salute to Winsor McCay

Flip Top in Slumberland: A Salute to Winsor McCay

 

The Plastic Static

Static

Static

Damn. How did so much time get away from us?

It’s like one minute you are standing in the middle of a warehouse in the early nineties, high on cheap beer, brown weed, teenage freedom and rock and roll; next thing you know it’s a different century and a different world, and everyone is compartmentalized and plastic and isolated.

Yes, we are getting older. Some of us, not all of us survived.

And one has to wonder sometimes, who is the winner in this game? The ones who checked out early? The ones who missed so many years? Those of us left behind? To carry on, to trudge forth even as we see everyone and everything around us crumbling.

These days I’m not so sure.

I crawled out of a cave. I fell asleep sometime in the last century and woke up here. In a museum, in a cheap science fiction movie. Here, we are both the spectators and the spectacle.

This hallway is black. Not dark. Black. Light doesn’t dare traverse it’s expanse. There are glimpses of neon here and there, but it’s impossible to tell if they are real or hallucination. The absence of light makes the hallway feel immense, long, possibly unending. That’s another scary notion. Eternity. The thought that there may be no end to this.

And then we must ask ourselves again, which is worse? The eternal shuffling toward nothing, or the exit too early; the ones we have lost, who have fallen along the way. Are we sad they have gone? Or is it only us growing ever lonelier as they one by one depart?

I looked for you. I looked forward to reconnecting.

You wouldn’t recognize the place. Everything has changed since you left.

We’ve torn down nature and put up a plastic nature replica. It will last forever, and it doesn’t get messy like the real thing. We still aren’t sure if the birth defects are a direct result of the synthetic natural plastic alloy or merely a coincidence, but we aren’t letting it slow us down either way.

The streets are emptier too. You would get along a little better with less traffic, fewer distractions to fight for your attention. You see that’s where there was a bookshop. That used to be a record store. This was a Wags before it was a Perkins before it was a Bakers Square before it was the Sunshine Breakfast Club before it was finally abandoned and left to rot away.

This used to be the beach. Our beach. I wish I could say they left this one alone.

It almost feels the same, the yellow moon peeking down through slivers of cloud. That breeze that always hints of winter, even in August, always reminds you of how cold it could be.

As if it had any idea.

Nothing that lives or breaths or moves really knows anything of the true cold. The freezing. The motionless waiting, staring. Stuck in your tracks. So cold you can’t even feel it anymore.

It doesn’t matter, you wouldn’t recognize this anyway. It is not ours. This is no longer the world we knew.

This. You see this? This passes for sand. I know. It is cleaner. It doesn’t get in your shoes and stuck in every crevice. This is static. This is electronic noise, pixels, bits of information formed to resemble the granules we knew growing up but without all the mess.

Maybe that’s how they’ve done it. Maybe that’s how the rug was pulled out from under us. Maybe they filled up all the hourglasses with this synthetic sand. It bought them all the time in the world.

There was a point I was trying to make. There was something I wanted to say to you, but I seem to be only rambling. I’m sorry to waste your time. You would have laughed at that one. The idea of wasting time. Maybe you had it right all along, you and the Mad Hatter.

Maybe yours was the right move. Maybe I’m worse off for witnessing this. Maybe it is you who escaped and I who am trapped. Imprisoned in black iron, indeed the empire never ended.

Still, I thought there would be more time. I thought we would meet again. Even if it was out here in the fringes of reality. This crumbling pier hanging precariously over the edge, over nothing, a bottomless pit of black frozen emptiness.

©Robert Emmett McWhorter

New Word: Zudswackxomnebplight

Get out a fresh circle of paper and a sliver of chalk, add this to your parents dictionary, here is today’s new word.

Zudswackxomnebplight /(no pronunciation)/ onomatopoeia v. unable to speak,
having no words. As in “I don’t know what to say, that film left me zudswackxomnebplighted.”
The key to pronouncing this word is remembering that all the letters are
silent; z from zoetrope, rendezous; u from colleague, guess; d from Wednesday,
sandwich; s from island, debris; w from sword, answer; a from artistically,
logically; c from muscle, scissors; k from knife, knight; x from faux pas; o
from colonel; b from crumbs, debt; m from mnemonic; n from autumn, column;
p from coup, psychology; l from would, should; e from breathe, psyche;
i from business; g from gnaw, high; h from honest, ghost; and t from castle,
gourmet. So if you pronounce it properly the listener will think
you have trailed off…

See the rest of my new additions to the English language!dyslexicon2prog

Tree of Life, Foot in Mouth, Hot Dog in the Snow

Tree of Life, Foot in Mouth, Hot Dog in the Snow

NOTICE: Ragnarok, Viking Apocalypse

Today is Ragnarok, the Viking version of ‘end of the world’ mythology. Experts are expecting things to progress in a smooth, orderly fashion. I think we have all learned much from the recent Mayan apocalypse, The Rapture, The oft-forgotten zombie apocalypse and of course Y2K.

As events commence later this afternoon when the sun is being eaten by an enormous cosmic wolf, all Vikings and people with substantial Nordic heritage should form a single file line, and kindly await notice before exiting.

Screaming and panicking will only be permitted in predetermined screaming and panicking zones, please consult your local apocalyptic protocols for the nearest location.

Parents of young children should make sure their own spirit has been safely released from the mortal coil before assisting their young ones with metaphysical disembodiment.

We know Ragnarok is not your only choice for end of the world ideologies, so we doubly appreciate your choice to end the world with us, and we hope to make the experience as enjoyable for everyone as is possible. We hope you will fill out a short customer satisfaction survey which you will receive once you make it to the other side.

How to Draw a Mirror

mirrorWords are magic. I mean this in a very literal sense, not as a metaphor. Words have changed the world, some would say the world was created with a word, as was life. When I write I am casting a spell, or attempting to.

If I do it right, there is a sequence, a certain combination of words arranged in a very particular order which will effectively transform the page, turn it into a mirror.

I think as much introspection and soul-searching and self discovery you indulge in, if you never attempt to put it down on paper where it can reflect back up to your eyes, you still have much to learn about yourself.

When I moved away from learning the fundamentals and experimenting with every aspect I encountered and really started to write, a window opened up through which I was finally able to see myself and face myself.

I think to some extent this is what all art attempts to do, to draw a mirror, to allow the world to witness its reflection and possibly learn, become wiser because of it. But the combinations change and do vary from person to person, so the job is never complete.

We must continue to cast our spells, find the new and ever altering patterns which unlock our perspective, and allow us to see ourselves and the entirety of existence hanging just out of sight behind the black ink structures we have laid upon the page.

© Robert Emmett McWhorter

Judging books by their cover

catacombsI think it’s one of the most used metaphors in existence, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover.’ And while I agree with the sentiment, in general it’s not wise to judge people or things on appearances, the truth is — at least as far as the world of book publishing — this rule just does not apply anymore.

I think the saying comes from the not too distant past, when all books had hardcovers, and the most decorative thing you could manage was splurging for the good leather.

These days the cover seems like a vitally important part of the book, I would say they are as important as cover art for albums back in the day when albums mattered.

I have seen many authors lately sharing some of their cover ideas. Some are better than others. Many authors still just do not recognize the importance of this step.

We spend countless hours writing and rewriting and then editing and re-editing, I think it is important to give the book cover the same degree of time and devotion. These are the containers we use to package our product, and they are so much a part of the product themselves. A good cover can persuade sales, and likewise a bad cover can keep a great book from being read.

I learned a lot putting together Meowing on the Answering Machine. I am glad Kat Mellon jumped in when she did, otherwise I would be on the other side of this article and probably simmering.

There was a time when book reviews in newspapers or magazines were not accompanied by a picture of the cover, because at the time it wasn’t considered important or relevant. These days are gone. It’s probably the internet to blame once again, the market is cluttered with publishers and independents fighting for a sliver of attention for their work and will use any means they have to hook a potential reader. And these days so much of our retail world and social lives are online, the chances are good that a majority of people will first encounter your book as a thumbnail.

This is important to keep in mind when you design your cover. Besides looking at how it will look when printed at say 6 by 9 in paperback format, you want to also make sure it looks good, the title and your name are legible when the image is reduced to 110 x 75 pixels.

I believe it’s important to recognize what the cover is and what its purpose is. It is meant as a representation of your product, if you are writing horror your cover should convey this. If the image and feel doesn’t complement the story, you run a risk of frustrating your readers.

When we get down to basics, your cover is the packaging of your product. Every detail should be aimed toward describing the product, as well as attracting attention and persuading people to take a chance. Your blurb should be short, direct and intriguing. Give them some mystery, a struggle or a contradiction, something to make them want to investigate further.

It was a dark and stormy night,‘ and almost any talk about the weather or the atmosphere or the ‘tension in the air’ probably should be snipped out of your sixty thousand word manuscript, descriptions such as these have absolutely no place in your two-hundred-words-or-less blurb, where they will stick out like a sore, but boring, thumb. Show us conflict and intrigue, make us want to crack the book open.

Get professional help if you can. I generally believe in the ‘you get what you pay for’ adage. But there are a ton of cover artists on the internet with a variety of different skills and a wide range of prices. Some of them are authors themselves and may be willing to help out a fellow writer, especially if they believe in your work.

But even if you do it yourself, take the time and do it right. If possible, don’t do it with the cover creator programs that createspace and lulu offer. These are functional and ‘okay,’ but do not give you many options and make it difficult to get a really professional look. I believe even using free software like GIMP, or even Paint, will let you make a more professional looking product.

But recognize what your cover is, it will be the first impression many people have of your work, and in some cases it will be the factor between tossing it in the cart or putting it back on the shelf. Make sure you honestly represent your work, and take this opportunity to hook a new reader, make it impossible for them to put that book back down.

Springtime in Camelot

SpringtimeinCamelot