Friday, December 31, 2010

5 books I found essential in 2010.

Despite marketing experts' efforts to get me to care about long-suffering love, becoming an internet millionaire, white people who should be happy but aren't, The Girl Who Just Kept Doing Dangerous Shit, and America's obsession with fictional young rape victims, these are the five books I find most memorable from the past year. Visionary? Meh. Life-changing? Nah. Poignant? Hell no! Shove it, Sparks!

1. The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier
I was so bent on finding a "real" publisher that I actually can't remember why I bought this book. But it changed all my notions about self-publishing within the first two chapters. It spent the next twenty chapters changing my life. These gals tell you only what you need to know, and they cover everything: considerations for printing, pricing, how to get stocked in stores, all the shit you need to be legit (ISBN, LCCN, EAN, etc), how to gain web presence, and how to handle order fulfillment. My only gripes are that the book openly admits to being more useful to non-fiction writers (a trend I find frustrating about self-publishing advice in general), and that the section on using Facebook is actually about how to use Facebook. As in how to set up a profile, how to message people---not how to use powerful social marketing in regards to successfully promoting a book. Other than that, this guide is pure gold. 

2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I spent a long time thinking that Tom Robbins was the only guy who had any right writing contemporary fantasy. The Douglas Adams knock-offs: always too silly; the darker stuff, always too nipply (granted, I really, really adored Gaiman's solo novel, American Gods, which is highly fantastical, fairly dark, and not at all nipply, but I couldn't include him twice in this list). Omens is an all-out fun read, and it's smart. The little running gags are what make this impending-armageddon "buddy cop" (angel, demon, working together) story really great: ripping on NPR gardening shows, Satan speaking between Freddy Mercury lyrics, and a corporate leadership paintball retreat turning deadly. And at no point do the authors try and wax poignant or preachy. They quickly get to the point--"Living on Earth is actually pretty rad. Do we really want to spend eternity singing boring praises and playing harps?"--and then they let the good times roll.

3. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Despite a few strikes against it (protagonist with a fucked-up childhood! romantic flashbacks/fables that beg to be Lifetime movies!), this book has just stuck with me all year. I have to hand it to Davidson, he knows how to treat details. Descriptions of anything static--architecture, landscapes, even cakes--tend to make my eyes glaze over after two sentences, but Davidson makes descriptions of everything from burn victim recovery to Mediterranean food so downright compelling that I was left wanting more. Which is good, because there was always more. My description? Boy has too much whiskey while driving, boy gets covered in grotesque burns, boy meets girl, girl tries to convince boy they were lovers in past lives, girl sculpts gargoyles and is bat-shit crazy. Skin grafts and pregnant 5th century German nuns. You'll love it.

Title says it all. I actually bought this book in early 2009, but I have returned to it countless times this year to create and maintain such gems as readvessel.com and yearofthetigerpress.com. Straightforward and assumes no prior knowledge of how the web functions. Trust me. Nothing is more fun or rewarding than testing your crazy html/css gymnastics in a web browser, seeing a resulting senseless jumble of graphics and code, and then spending hours finding and correcting your markup until it actually works. I'm serious. It's like spending eight hours making a perfect sandwich, and then getting to eat it forever

5. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
Kelly Link is a freaking prodigy. She writes dreams. Her short stories read like the narrative in your head just before you wake up and realize how ridiculous it'd be to build a fort entirely out of VCRs. The entire world is a 112-story library because it just is. The character and his co-worker always wear pajamas because the just do, and the pajamas all have patterns of pictures within pictures because they just do. When you finish a Link short, you literally feel like you just regained consciousness. Beware though: her stories all set up the beginning of a greater story and then end the moment we dive in. I thought Magic for Beginners was a novel, and at the end of the incredible first chapter, I was so ready to see what happened next. Could the heroine retrieve her boyfriend from the time-lapsed Eastern-European world hidden deep in her grandmother's furry handbag (which by the way, is made from the skin of the Hounds of Hell)???? I'll never know, because I turned the page and another short story began, and I fell out of a tree in the park and bruised my ass. I hate Kelly Link for that. I love Kelly Link for that. If Kelly Link wrote a full-length novel, I'd pee rainbows for a year.

And until that very special year comes...happy reading, happy trails, and Happy New Year!

Love, 
Tom

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In which Tom is less crotchety regarding e-books.


Here's a subject that's been on my mind since my slippery adventures releasing Vessel as an e-book. Up until about two weeks ago, I was one of those "need to hold the book" kinds of people. I still am. If it's a book I'll love and adore--or one I'll refer to often--then I want the cuddly, old-school print edition. Yes, when it comes to books, I'm a regular old Paper McPaperson.

However!

Like an emotional drinker on a date of desperation, I am starting to come around to the e-book's merits. Here they are, as I see them:

a. Authors with limited resources (i.e., they are broke as shit and can't seem to catch an agent's heavenly gaze) can build a substantial following of readers by releasing e-books. The e-book party is like a Presbyterian fellowship dinner--anyone's allowed to contribute and no one is rejected (with a few notable exceptions). If you don't suck, and if you work hard enough to advertise your book, you can sell it, get readers interested, and then move boldly into print.

b. On the flipside of that: e-books allow readers access to hundreds of authors and works which they'd otherwise never see--maybe even track down printed books after making these new discoveries. Seriously, there are some real gems to be found, if you can get through all the teen fanfic and the porn . . .

c. Porn! My god, the porn! Something like half of all e-books published on Smashwords are amateur erotic shorts, followed closely by romance stories (lady porn, with more talking). The sickest things imaginable, all at your sticky fingertips. And it's literature, so you feel better. Before as well as after.

d. Think of the trees.

e. Free books! Loads of e-books are available for free. Free how-to guides. Free reference material. Free poetry. Free shorts. Free novels. It's true that free can sometimes mean poor quality. But who hasn't bought a book that sucked?

f. Cost and convenience. Really want that $25 book on social media marketing strategies (I sure do), but know the information will be obsolete next month when Mark Zuckerburg decides to once again fuck everyone's eyes and rearrange facebook? Pay way less for the e-book version. Stuck at the airport and don't want to pay two human limbs for The Girl Who Kicked A Pit Bull in the Head? Hunt a good novella down on your Kindle. You get to read good work you'd never otherwise have seen, and some girl in Vermont gets $3. Everyone wins. Except the Girl Who Kicked A Pit Bull in the Head. And she had it coming.

Bottom line: E-books eliminate the widening, festering moat between author and reader. They are a necessary good in the current battle to gut the publishing industry. Do not fear the e-pocolypse. Do not fear the "end of books". Books aren't going anywhere. Socrates was afraid that writing would make discussion and thought obsolete, but the Greek alphabet came out 3,000 years ago and guys still sit around talking about bitches, music, and politics. Books are safe. Bookstores are not. So you like books? Then continue creating demand for them. Go to a bookstore. Buy books. And we will all live happily ever after.

Also, give e-books a try. Starting with Vessel! Don't even kid yourself by downloading the free sample--you know you want to read the whole thing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Animals that start with F" and other things I've googled.


(But the real question is: Can I put new shoes on an owl?)

We all google some weird shit. And we always fear the moment that our internet history will drop down and reveal to the houseguest that we've been googling "how to get off the sex offender list" or "do I have anal fissures?". Googling for fictional purposes leads to a new level of context confusion entirely. All those burning questions, all the quick info fixes we chase to ensure the perfect pop culture reference or the most fitting town name--it can leave some pretty interesting leftovers in your hard drive.

While working on Vessel, my own search history began to shock me on a daily basis, so I started saving the best of the best. Here are a few from the past year. Enjoy.
  1. gay man top crushes
  2. hot amputees
  3. Rory Gilmore
  4. motor home length
  5. top gay club songs
  6. famous magicians
  7. engine on when car explodes?
  8. depth of the New River
  9. is the term mulatto offensive?
  10. electrical burns
  11. high school mascots
  12. Animals that start with F
  13. most expensive men's shoes
  14. average weight of a tour bus
  15. gravel company names
I know, right? Now you have to read it. And if you've been to my house and seen any of the above in the search bar, have no fear: it was in the name of fiction. Feel free to use that excuse next time someone outs you for googling "has Oprah ever posed nude?". And always, always remember:
It's true.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Love Letters: An Affair with Chase Bank



This will be first in a series of posts in which I answer the many forward advances of Chase Bank, who, for the purposes of expedience, will henceforth be referred to as Chaz. 

I regularly receive 4-5 pieces of mail from Chaz per week. I have never met with Chaz, nor have I done business with him. I am perfectly content in my current relationship with Bank of America. Plus, from what I've heard, Chaz is kind of a desperate whore. Apparently, he pursues nearly everyone with unsolicited mail, including infants. That's kind of icky. Also, his Seattle bus ads walk a fine line between pathetic and insulting ("More ATMs Than Espresso Carts!"). Really, Chaz? Have you ever actually been to Seattle? If you have, then you would know that espresso carts are pretty much extinct, even here. I bet you would just go to Starbucks, anyway. Dick.

I considered getting on Chaz's ''Do-Not-Mail'' list until I heard that this would involve being on the phone for 20 minutes with someone who is paid to pleasantly offer me things no matter what I say. And to me, that feels like defeat. I already knew that the cold shoulder simply wasn't going to work for this bank, and I did not want to expend any effort to stop these propositions. But then, the lightbulb moment: Chaz, I realized, always includes a return envelope in his mailers. Not only is the postage paid, but neither my name nor my return address is printed on these. Also, there's a cute little "Priority Processing" stamp on it, there to mock the underpaid data processor who has to open the thing.

So, instead of bureaucratically pushing Chaz away, I am going to start answering him as inappropriately as possible. My explicitly erotic love letter was too much this first time around, so I settled for imagery instead. I felt that this photograph of a man exposing himself to a dead cow was rather apt. And adding the "Thank You", I think, was a fine, thought-provoking juxtaposition:




I will continue posting further correspondence with Chaz as this saga develops, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

HOW TO SCARE THE ABSOLUTE PISS OUT OF YOUR BLIND DATE (or) How to Not Get Laid by an Informed Female Stranger, Like, Ever.















Why didn't I listen to mother? SWEET JESUS, PUT DOWN THE LIGHTER!!

If you've turned on a TV in the last decade, then Barbara Walters has no doubt warned you about the extreme, sphincter-tightening dangers of online dating. The numbers are astonishing, the atrocities, atrocious. Millions of men and women, assaulted and gruesomely dismembered by a white trash killer posing as someone else on "that blasted cyber-space." Think about it: when was the last time you actually met a 13-year-old girl? Not lately, am I right? Well. That's because they're ALL GONE.

And yet, online dating persists. A high-risk sport of pursuit only for the brave, the poor, and the lazy. COUNT ME THE HELL IN.

As an active member of Seattle's Lovelab for 9 months now, I must say that I have some real problems with online dating. Up until last Sunday, the gentlemen Lovelab had delivered to me had all been great. Attractive, engaging, polite, adequately affectionate. I've enjoyed their company, made some lasting and true friends, and made it home safely every time. Case in point: They're doing it wrong. 

Where is the fear? The gut-wrenching moment when I know there is no escape? The hungry-eyed man from the made-for-tv Lifetime-movie moment who will leave me whimpering on my bathroom floor?

Well, let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen. Finally, finally, I found him. And boy, did he rock my Easter Sunday. 

Oh, what a feeling! So impressed was I with the state this date left me in that (before my mind could erase the memories as an emotional defense mechanism) I took notes. So that you, too, will know how to scare the pants, literally (hah!), off your next blind date.

Ready? O-Kay!

Securing the Date: 
After establishing contact and finding out your date's name, Google her immediately. That's standard practice for blind dates, of course, but be sure she knows just how thoroughly you have researched her online traces. Try mentioning how much you like her fiction work minutes into your first online chat session. Careful, though! You want to spook her, but you still want to meet her, so talk about yourself a bit, too. Exemplify your normal qualities and attractive hobbies, and be flirtatiously suggestive (but only slightly!). It is also okay to suggest a secluded activity like hiking for the two of you sometime in the ridiculously near future.

Pre-Date:
Text her constantly in the days leading up to the date, but don't establish a time yet. This shows that you are very busy harming other women but are still thinking about her. Eventually, her thumbs will get tired and she will just call you. When she does, state that you are conveniently somewhere close to where she lives, even though SHE HASN'T TOLD YOU WHERE THAT IS YET. That is sure to put up a big red flag.

First Impressions:
Look your best, but put on your best crazy eyes (thanks to American Psycho, all girls know that the sickest assailants are handsome and normal-looking). Very important: Make sure she knows right away that all you want is to get alone with her. After a greeting and approximately twelve seconds of small talk, immediately suggest your three ideas: a tequila party with people she's never met one county over (via your car), going back to her place (via your car), or the first place you can think of that will require her getting into your car. When she laughs nervously and suggests a nearby pool hall instead, no sweat. She just wants to size you up more before you take her down, you handsome thing, you.

The Date:
Don't give up on the car idea. Suggest driving to the pool hall, no matter how close she insists it is. Even if you give in and walk, you can later suggest driving her home (which is also only three blocks away from your car). During the pool game, let her do most of the talking. This will put her at ease, as will your brief but wild travel stories. Wanting very much to give you the benefit of the doubt, she will assume that your overt friendliness (and your proposition of watching a movie at her place) are just by-products of your free and well-travelled spirit. Note: Make absolutely sure that every movie you keep on your person is of the male bravado, gratuitously violent ilk. Don't just have Inglorious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs, or Goodfellows. Have all three. That'll really shiver her timbers!

Getting Physical:
Now for the good part!! Since she has allowed you to be alone with her, it's assumable that she has a can of mace, at least two friends on call, or both. No worries --there are still some things you can get away with. Halfway through the movie, without any pretense whatsoever, get extremely close to her face and ask for permission to kiss her (women LOVE being asked permission. It makes them feel empowered). Her response will likely be a startled whimper, as she fears by the impossible closeness of your face and the feral look in your eye that a "No" will at this point invite physical harm. And that's to your advantage, see? She would much rather just kiss you than have her teeth broken in! So go for it. Start with a slow kiss, and then, without invitation of any kind, GO FUCKING NUTS. Grope, unsnap the bra, and dive head-first into that cleavage as fast as you fucking can, before she comes to her senses and struggles away from you. After she slaps you and irately demands that you snap her bra back on, take some time to let the both of you cool off. She will have a lot to think about, such as how to get you out of her apartment with the least amount of hurt feelings (or broken teeth) as possible. Maybe you just had the wrong idea about what she wanted, she thinks. She calmly begins to say this, to ease the situation for both parties. It is very important that you quickly interrupt her by declaring that you are NOT having sex with her until you see recent documents stating that she is STD-free, and for her not to worry. Yes, say that. If you want to see a woman's head ignite into flames, say just that.

Taking Her Home:
By this point, she either has a death wish or perceives just how utterly ineffective and harmless you are (you silly thing! you just wanted to get laid!), so she'll consent to that quick lift to her house once you've both reached your car again. Do not drive anywhere immediately. Simply turn on the ignition, sit, and drink in the tense, sweet awkwardness of the moment. Say you need something out of your glove compartment, and (since it's so dark in your car?), wave AN (I-FUCK-YOU-NOT!) LIGHTER around between her knees while searching through your glove compartment (trust me, she won't even remember what you were looking for). Be sure to also say something light-hearted about slicing her into little pieces when you casually brush your pocket knife off the dashboard. Then, before she can walk away from this experience with any dignity whatsoever, ask her how many men she has met from Lovelab, and if she likes to make out with all of them. She'll be so stunned, outraged, and hurt that she'll be trying to stutter an appropriate answer all the way home. And let me tell you, nothing on this earth is more adorable than a woman who's just been wrongly accused of being a loose, indiscriminate hussy. Look at you! You're in love!

After the Date: 
You may be anxious to send coarse, suggestive messages to her about what a slut she is, but give her some time. She will likely need Sunday evening and most of Monday to cry, battle a gnawing sense of shame, constantly review and question her own actions, and seek out the company of friends in an attempt to feel loved, safe, and generally right again. After two days of no contact, though, you should probably cut things off directly, just to be safe. Send her a text message that states your admiration and appreciation but clearly ends the relationship. "Nice to meet you. Have a great life," will do. She probably won't bother to answer you, but rest assured --she will be looking for you in every empty parking garage she walks through for the rest of her life! Great job!!

** Did this shit really happen to me? Yes. Am I making light of an important issue? Yes. Is it still a gravely important issue? YES, it is. Sharing this post is the equivalent of a shaky marathon chat about the encounter with a friend, plus a tub of cookie dough. It makes me feel better. I know the risks I deal with (I listen to Barbara Walters, duh!), and I'm okay. But ladies, be careful. They're out there. They really are. If you are meeting someone for the first time, always make sure your friends know where you are, and ALWAYS trust your gut. XO!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sizing Matters: Ourselves according to Hanes



I had a thought recently, when I uncovered what had to be the fifteenth pack of un-worn cotton underwear meant for return to Target. This was the thought: "How did I ever think my ass was this big?"

I'll tell you how. Sizing. Clearly, the manufacturers of pants never talk to the manufacturers of underpants. I fill up every inch of a pair of size 9 jeans, and damn, I do it well. But, given the fact that there are size 0 jeans in existence --minus sizes, even-- what size underwear do you think I'd look for? Size 9? Lord, no. How about 6? Oddly enough, too big. And when confronted with bins of adorable underpants labelled S, M, L, and X-L, you'd think I'd be a Medium, yeah? Well you'd be wrong. The Mediums inexplicably sag off my pert round ass like so much drapery. My fabulous size 9 pelvis requires a Small. What the hell, textile industry? What the hell? 

This is not the only sizing discrepancy I've noticed, either. For instance: I wear a Large in women's t-shirts, a Small in women's camisoles. A Small in women's tights --which are sized according to height/weight proportions, and may as well be sized according to one's eye color-- and a whopping 10 in ladies' dress sizes. My bra size is 36B, which is fairly average and about $30 a pop for the worst of the lot. Bangle bracelets fly off my wrists at the tamest dance move, dress shoes simply will not stay on my abnormally-narrow feet, and yet I have never found a non-Rastafarian hat that will accommodate my apparently gigantic head. 

When all of this information is considered logically, I should look something like this:

Yes. According to modern sizing standards, I am some kind 
of MIDGET SHE-OGRE.

But I can't be the only one of my kind, right?  Does anyone else notice these baffling sizing incongruencies?  And what, pray tell, happens to packages of opened underwear once they are returned to a store? And where, WHERE IN THE HELL, do you size-0 bitches find panties?? I sure would like to know.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Menannigans. An article for the gentlemen.















We need to talk.


Dating is good. Dating is nice. Dating is good, clean, American fun. But like a tilt-a-whirl operator who ignores the weight limit and admits the morbidly obese person, poor decisions are sometimes made which can ruin the fun. And then the children are decapitated.

And nobody wants that.

I am here to help. I am taking stock of the recurring mistakes evident in dates gone awry. And be assured, gentlemen, you are not always at fault. Having noted my own pitfalls, I solemnly vow to correct the following: Indecisiveness. Poor diction of the spoken word. Inappropriate choices in footwear. Spilling stuff on your friends and belongings. Tardiness. Rambling. Peeing excessively. 

But fellas, seriously. There is some shit you could really pay more attention to. And there are some things you DON'T do on a date. To any woman. To any sentient being, or plant. Yet you just keep bleeping doing them. I will get to those things, but first, the basest of sins. Fear not, gentlemen, for you could not top this stuff if you tried (or may Eywa save your soul). Allow me to introduce the ones who have gone before you. Allow me to introduce you to: 

THE MEN I HAVE SURVIVED
2008/2009 edition:
These are real accounts, from real first dates. Yes. First dates. And to quote personal hero, Joel Derfner, "If I've dated you and any of these anecdotes seem to be referring to you, they're not. They're about somebody else. You were divine."

And, drumroll...

Man #4. Pretended to be deathly afraid of bees as a prelude to kissing me. (Offender denies allegations, claims actual phobia of bees. Otherwise, a delightful person.) 

Man #3. Discussed his overwhelming suicidal thoughts. (again, first date. srlsy.)

Man #2. Pushed me into a full jacuzzi tub. Clothes on. 

And the winner is...

Man #1. Locked himself stark-naked in my kitchen pantry. 


Again. Things you should not do. 
And for the hopeful, more things you should not do:


DON'T: Interrupt me.
Contrary to popular belief, it does not make women horny.

DON'T: Walk so fast.
I look like an idiot when I walk fast, I get uncomfortably hot --in short, the Good Lord did not see fit to mechanically engineer me to "hustle". If you walk fast, it will not prompt me to walk faster, under any circumstances.  If there's a fire behind us, then I will walk away from it in cinematic, sexy slow-motion, whether you like it or not.  So go ahead and chase that bus, boy. I'll catch the next one. 

DON'T: Blatantly ignore my long-ass, boring story.
I know, I know. I just realized how long I'm taking. I'll wrap it up soon, or find five dollars, I promise.  

DON'T: Pee with the door open.
WHAT. WHY. WHY. 

DON'T: Say you've read my book
Agents can read my book. My mom can read my book. Friends can read my book. Crocodile Dundee can read my book. The Pope can read my book. Men I date CANNOT read my book.  When people tell me they're reading my book, I feel naked.  And that's super.  I like that nakedness.  I like it just fine.  But when someone who intends to maybe actually see me naked has also seen me naked by reading my book, then that's like, double-naked.  That's like being inside-out, test tube naked.  I don't dig.

DON'T: Side with my mother.
Unless you wish to die.

DON'T: Treat sex like laundry.
All my ladies know what I'm talking about. Now don't get me wrong, there's a time and place in every relationship for sex of the 'necessity' sort. But sex, however impassionate or impersonal, should never, ever be approached with a blase attitude.  If there's a pile of dirty laundry in the corner of your bedroom, it's perfectly okay to say to yourself "Yeah, sure. I guess it's about time I did that."  But look again!  That's not a pile of laundry.  That's a woman. A woman with feelings.  A very attractive, eager, pounceable woman with feelings. Very important: DO NOT MISTAKE HER FOR LAUNDRY.  You're a man. Statistically speaking, you are to be consistently excited by the prospect of sex with an attractive woman until you are 35. So if an attractive, amiable woman is available for sex, THEN BY GOD, BE EXCITED. I don't care how long you two have been banging. Unless you've been married for 75 years, you are to be excited. You don't have to pound on your chest or tear walls down, but you do have to show her you want her. She already comprehends that you want her, but it'll FREAK HER THE FUCK OUT if you don't exhibit the proper signs, regardless. For the confused, you may exhibit the proper signs by doing any of the following:
   - kiss
   - beckon
   - put on some Sinatra
   - throw her down on the mattress and take her goddamn clothes off already
And if for any reason wires have been crossed and you do not wish to pony up, then man up. Politely steer that girl home somehow, before you both make asses of yourselves.


Other useful considerations:

-Using proper written grammar. Please. Please. For the children.

-Flowers. Still classy. Still sweet as hell.  

- Verbally remembering the occasional stupid little thing (i.e., a dress worn, a word said, a song liked). HEED: This can save you from any argument.
Example:
Me: "...like that time you mentioned Mother's alcholism at the dinner table!"
You: "YOU WERE WEARING THE GREEN DRESS!!! PEARLS!!!"
And bam! Argument over. Also, your pants are suddenly off. How about that. Good job, you!

- Clean up. I like a little scruff, but make sure I know you have a jaw-line.

- Make sure your bathroom has a trash can. Next guy to miss this gets a tampon to the face.

- This one's for all the women who are afraid they will sound shallow if they say it: For god's sake, TELL ME I LOOK PRETTY.  I'm friggin' gorgeous. And there's positively no reason you shouldn't say something about it. 

See? This stuff is easy! You are now officially ready to date me. Everyone's happy. Now go get em', tiger!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Fair Lady.

People, I am overwhelmed. I must let it out. I have things to say. Feelings to admit. Special feelings, for a special lady. A special lady named Lady Gaga.

Even though I've gone about six years without network cable (not out of principal, mind you, but because I am broke and busy), and even though I only listen to the same scratched-up CDs over and over again in my car, an outside voice eventually came through to me, through shopping mall speakers and episodes of the Office. The voice said "Just dance. It'll be okay."

I agreed. I danced. And you know what? It was okay.

In March of 2009, I googled this voice and discovered that it belonged to Ms. Gaga. Normally, I don't care enough about musicians to delve deeper, unless a guitarist is particularly attractive. At which point I surf for a good photo of him in leather pants and make him my desktop wallpaper. But Gaga inexplicably sank all these little glittery hooks into me and I continued my search. At first, I was wary of her excessive use of the color taupe. But other recurring elements had me YouTubing like mad. What's with the lightning bolt? How about that fingers-around-the-eye hand move she keeps doing? What IS a disco stick? There are two Great Danes in every video. What does all of this mean?!?! 

After further mesmerized, uneducated research, I decided that Ms. Gaga was an admirable person since she writes/plays/designs/conceptualizes most of her own material (even to an apathetic, passive music enjoyer like myself, that shit is impressive). But that isn't what made me fall in love. Lady Gaga knew what she wanted early on in life. She took on crappy waitressing jobs to make time for her art. Now she designs pantless outfits with moving parts and sings shamelessly about masochism. She hops from boyfriend to girlfriend and scoffs when interviewers ask her if she wants kids. My heart was sold. I clean toilets five days a week so that I'll have brain-power left at the end of the day to do what I really love. I would projectile-vomit my own uterus if it were humanly possible. And we all know by now that I detest wearing pants. So this information excited me.

I felt like an impressionable nine-year-old at a school motivational assembly. I've never had a proper celebrity role model. When asked "Who would you want to meet?" and all that BS growing up, I always had some cop-out answer like Jesus or Ghandi. Jesus and Ghandi are both great and all, and I want to mitigate suffering as much as the next guy, but I also want to write a popular fantasy series and bask in the delight of my reader base. I want it. I want it bad. And suddenly here before me is this woman, born on this earth only two weeks before me, who got what she wanted and who is not apologizing to anyone. And you can just tell, when fire shoots out of her metal bra or when she is man-handling some latex slave backup dancer, that she is fucking loving it. She is in love with her awesome self. And more of us should be.

So now, when I get a form rejection letter or I consider that it might take ten years and twenty re-writes to ever get published, I say to myself, "Tom, would Lady Gaga be laying here in bed, listening to the Postal Service and eating cookie dough in the dark and feeling sorry for herself? No. No she would not. She would get up, put on her pantless space-suit, and grab this situation by the balls, and she would cover anyone who stood in her way with fake blood. Now get the hell up and make your shit happen."

Someday I'd like to thank the Lady in person for this real and pure impact she's unknowingly made. I would also love to wrestle with her in jello or take her shoe shopping, but I like to keep my goals broad and attainable. Other aspirations must remain fantasies. Like the one where Lady GaGa rides up in platinum armor atop a rhinestone-studded horse, bitch-slaps me over the saddle, and takes me back to her dark, eerie, neon-streaked kingdom, where she loves me forever and makes me the chief mistress of her man stable. 

Because you KNOW Lady Gaga's kingdom would so totally have a man stable. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pinch me. (No really, I like it.)

Six months is a long time to hold the pause button. Half a year of awesome is starting to spill out of my ears; I don't even know what to say. So let me focus this revival post (hopefully the first of a nice, regular flow) on an excellent starter-topic: My neighborhood. 

Capitol Hill, Seattle. For a not-quite-published pomosexual closet-masochist coffee addict with a limited income, this place is heaven on earth. Sweet lord, it just overflows with goodness --wide-open, no questions asked, ever accepting goodness. You should have to win a lottery to live here. It's sinful. Close your eyes. You are about to begin another day in this place...

Dreaming about pregnancy, again (because everyone you know, male or female, is pregnant), you awake. For a moment, you panic. But you are not pregnant. Which is awesome.

Instead you are lying in a totally warm, not-too-hot place (all Seattle apartments are cozy-warm and not-too-hot-warm, except for Mr. Binder's condo, which is sweltering). The beaming, glorious sun has been beaten bloody and left to die behind a thick wall of clouds, and that's nice. Morning doesn't hurt your eyes here. There is an ungodly loud sound outside, but you like that, too. It's the recycling truck, which sounds like a giant ostrich giving birth when it backs up, but that's okay. Recycling is a good thing, you remind yourself.

You are likely naked. You walk to the kitchen (or you walk home, and if that is the case, you should put clothes on first, unless it is a special holiday). You listen to NPR and make coffee in a french press and then guzzle it. You check your email with free, abundant, stolen wireless, lace up your shoes, and drive to work. Remember, the sun is not in your eyes. To the West and to the East, pointy mountain peaks are covered in snow, but it's a pleasant 55 degrees outside. Jacket weather. 

Work is an empty house. You scrub. You buff the stainless steel appliances and vacuum and sneeze at the dog hair. No one bothers you. You get the sense that your motions are useful and good. Someone will later appreciate the shiny floor. They will smell all the clean when they get home, like in those Febreeze commercials, and their evening will be better and lighter because of you. You play with the dog, which is adorable and does not slobber. Then you drive to the home of your boss, a stout, no-bull elderly lesbian, to pick up your paycheck. Did I mention it is almost Christmas? She gives you a bag of cookies and laughs and says that they're Gingerbread Dykes. Merry Christmas.

You can tell you are on Capitol Hill again at the Olive Way stoplight because every man you see is tall and handsome and possesses a faux-hawk. Unless he happens to be black. Then, he is bald. The good kind of bald. The sexy kind of bald. Everyone is dressed like they're going to a concert, and so no one in particular looks like they're trying too hard, and so you don't feel like you'll attract too much attention by wearing whatever the hell you want. A dwarf on a scooter with a pipe in his mouth whizzes by on the cross-walk. You've seen him before. You've also seen Link, the Link from Zelda, complete with tights. He is standing outside the cupcake shop. He is eating a cupcake. On the corner, a middle-aged bi-racial gay couple kisses with complete sweetness in the broad (but muted) daylight, and an angel gets its wings. You are home.

You are home, and it's only 1pm. You take a nap, eat something that involves avocados, shower, call your mom. You throw some library books into your bag and walk to the park, the one with all the trees that are effortlessly sit-able. You sit in one and read, because the ground and the park benches are slightly wet. Or you maybe you go sit in a cafe for awhile with your laptop, where you will have no choice but to order something with an Italian name (drip does not exist here). Or maybe you go to the gym, and maybe you will be on the treadmill directly across from that awesome plump woman with the ipod, who swings wildly on the elliptical while lip-syncing to music only she can hear, tossing her butt-length gray hair with so much sass. You love this woman. You love her so, so much.

And then a friend calls. You argue for ten minutes about which Thai place to go to, because there are so many, all good, all reasonably priced, all within walking distance. And after all this  delicious food and this delicious company, the options are endless. A burlesque show. A quiet bubble bath. A free art gallery. A play. A disco full of queens and people who can dance without pressing their penises all over you. A frisbee game. An S&M session. A walk on a pebbly beach. Parcheesi.

And as you walk on to any one of these things, it is raining. But not really. It's more of a mist. You don't need an umbrella. You don't even need to close your eyes. Everything is lush and nothing seems threatening, not even the occasional cat-call. The men here don't shout "Ow, mama!" or "Hey girl, turn that thing around!". They just speak loudly, and smile sincerely, and say things like "May I please say that you are gorgeous?" or "You look so nice. I hope you're having a great day." 

And you say back, "I am, thank you. I really am." You feel all giddy after that, and it's still 8pm with the rest of the evening is still wide open ahead of you, and you know how you will be when it ends: Warm and not-too-hot. Probably naked. Unquestionably, unabashedly happy.